We've been downright giddy about BROTHER since its first issue hit the shelves last year. Penned by Wyatt Williams and devised by quite the culinary brain-trust (designer Alvin Diec, Chef Ryan Smith and Photographer Andrew Thomas Lee) the first issue of BROTHER taught us everything we'd ever wanted to know about chicken and the life of poultry farmer Brandon Chanko. Beautifully photographed, expertly written and adeptly designed, it seemed that Atlanta's own had finally concocted the kind of food journal we had longed and hoped for – one that didn't shy away from the raw origins of our eats. The motivation behind it? Andrew explained it best, "I think the intention of the magazine is to show the whole process of how food ends up on your plate — sometimes, that can be graphic. Our first issue was about chicken, and it gets a little bloody. We don't want to flinch at those moments. We're not trying to make people uncomfortable; it's just part of the story."
Since then, we've eagerly awaited their sophomore effort. After seemingly endless postulating over what its subject would be and who would write it, the answer arrived in the form of a 36 page, full-color booklet about anything and everything bivalve, authored by Rachael Maddux and released on New Years Eve. Why such a delay between issues? Well, the folks behind BROTHER don't fool around with getting to the guts of their stories. "Andrew emailed me in June to see if I was interested," Maddux explains. "Within a couple weeks they'd landed on Clammer Dave and in late July we went to Charleston for a couple days to meet him and see his whole operation. I spent August and September doing some other research and then the guys got my draft in early October." In the meantime, Andrew and Ryan returned to Charleston to photograph the peak of oyster harvest season.
The photography of this issue, though less graphic than the issue prior, maintained the authentic, story-driven focus of its predecessor. BROTHER aims to bridge the large gap between consumer and foodstuffs. "Too many publications focus on this weird, idealistic version of food and the culture around it," Diec said. "Canoeing to a small island at sunset to have an 'artisanal' picnic under string lights sounds fun, but who does that? It's all too pretty and inert and a bit creepy." Andrew added on, "I've been shooting more and more food over the last few years, and while I love photographing beautiful and composed plates, something was missing for me. The story behind how it got there, and what the chef did to make it look and taste that way, always seemed removed. I love getting to know the farmers we feature and sharing a meal with them."
The story got to the guts of its author as well. Maddux, who had limited experience with mollusks prior to meeting Clammer Dave, saw her clean slate as a strength, "I think maybe put me on par with the average person who might pick up the magazine. I think most people who think about what they eat have some vague awareness of how beef or chicken or pork processing works. Or fishing, even. But clams and oysters are far more mysterious." Her experiences certainly opened her eyes to whole new worlds too, "Climbing up a rusty ladder to the top of Dave's creaky old houseboat out in Charleston Harbor felt just like being Kevin Costner in Waterworld. I thought I might die, then considered just never coming down."
Copies of BROTHER are available for purchase online at the journal's website, as well as at both Octane locations and at Provisions by Food52.