A devil of a waiter reports on yet another ACP magazine re-lunch, sorry re-launch.
It was a typically ACP magazine launch. Actually a typical John
Alexander party. A nice venue, Flying Fish in Pyrmont nestled on the
western edge of Sydney’s CBD and a little difficult to find. That kept
the hoi polloi away.

But last Thursday night, those treasured ACP insiders and friends
managed to find their way there for the re-launch of Gourmet Traveller
magazine, the second in the last four years, and an affair to mark
another edition of ACP’s premier eating and greeting publication.

The food was fab, the drinks titillating and with evidence of a good
night in the snaps in the Sydney social pages, a glorious night was had
by all.

And one that just avoided being a publishing disaster such was the
production confusion in the last fortnight before publication.

So who attended the party? Mr Alexander of course and his number one
publisher and go-to man at ACP, Phil Scott. They were the main players.

Then there was the fragrant Deeta Colvin, ace networker and pr queen of
Sydney and close friend of Alexander. She organised the night,
which unlike a couple of functions a year or so ago, went off without a
hitch.

Chefs galore and the favoured ones, the ones whose food is to die for and of course acceptable to the John Alexander taste buds.

There’s Guillame Brahimi who was reported in the Sunday property pages
as having bought a $6 million property in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs.

Then there was the everywhere man, Neil Perry, who popped up in a short
feature on Burke’s Backyard a week or so ago on the Nine Network, and
fed the hungry Don. Talk about cross promotion and synergy.

Remember Neil works for Qantas at the pointy end of the jumbo, and John
is good mates with Geoff at Qantas, and James is a newish Qantas
director. All one big happy, extended family, right?

Luke Mangan was sighted, as was a Doyle (there are so many in the eating trade in Sydney).

Peter Holder, another up and comer at ACP was there, as was Simon
Johnson, the uber expensive Sydney foodie purveyor where all the right
folk shop on plastic.

Andy Harris was also sighted, he of the good taste and impeccable touch
imported by John Alexander to give some oomph to GT and its approach to
food and drink.

A former recipe tester at Vogue, Andy is reported to have made his name in foreign culinary circles.

Anthea Loucas, the magazine’s editor was there. She was imported from
Fairfax by Phil Scott (himself a former Fairfax mags publisher, and
before then a motoring journo at Fairfax and ACP).

Anthea has already made her mark at ACP with her wildly unstructured
approach to staff meetings and communication. There isn’t any and her
approach to the look of the layout and the way copy is used on the
page, has been, to say the least, challenging to all concerned.

Anthea, you see loves a ragged look, with lines of differing length. No
justification for her. There’s nothing like words slewing across a page
to make it resemble, say a Bill Grainger signature dish of scrambled
eggs.

On the other hand, publisher Phil loves order on his pages. He
loves copy marching up and down the page to a predetermined fully
justified width. A tidy mind and a tidy approach to magazine publishing
has our Phil.

Well, with such widely diverging approaches to such a basic part of
magazine publishing, something had to give. Yes, a compromise had to be
struck. So un John Alexander, wasn’t it?

And it was. A positively Gordian compromise. Phil and Anthea agreed that the copy with be set ragged, but justified.

But Anthea wasn’t to be denied, she continued on her wild and ‘ragged’
ways and Phil found out. He was last seen in the GT office, re-editing
the copy into some sort of justified, but ragged order.

And looking at GT in the newsagents, the copy looks, well ragged but
justified. It’s neither one nor the other. A creative use of white
space one might conclude.

Anyhow Anthea’s people skills aren’t great, nor are her skills at
managing copy flow and pages. She often changes her minds after pages
have been approved and sent away. Quite often people in the magazine
have little idea of what feature is going where. Others wear the
blame.

It’s not a happy ship. A few more G’n’Ts might settle the issue.

And then Phil, and his boss, John, also have their input on style, look
and content. Which given their skills and experience is certainly
warranted.

But the magazine got out and was re-launched last week to culinary
Sydney. Not however before a senior production person departed last
week. Not that surprising given the frustration levels.

Keep reading.

Peter Fray

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