Life & Thyme is an online platform for culinary storytelling told through thoughtful journalism, photographs and film. It’s one of the first online publications to put such an authentic editorial twist on something as “everyday” as food – they take their readers on a course through the kitchen, to meet the chefs, and even go all the way back to the farm where the ingredients were cultivated. Charming, hardworking and obsessed with good food, Antonio Diaz is the creative mind behind it all. Fueled by his passion for cuisine and his thirst for creativity, over the past year and a half he has managed to produce a journal of informative content that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also pretension free. Check out this insightful interview with Antonio as we speak about inspiration, ingenuity and of course, food.
LF: Hi Antonio, how are you today ?
AD: California finally got some rain, so I’m doing fantastic.
LF: Can you tell our readers what Life & Thyme is all about ?
AD: Life & Thyme is an online magazine that documents food culture with a strong editorial sensibility. We’ve accomplished this with long-form essays, interviews, photography, and short films about the human and emotional aspect around food. Rather than writing about myself eating a dish at a restaurant with an iPhone photo, I want to hear the personal journey of a chef, learn about the line cooks and their dedication, and create a compelling story that people can resonate with on a deeper level.
LF: When did it all begin?
AD: It’s only been a little over a year since Life & Thyme launched. It honestly started as a creative outlet for some of my closest friends and I. I live and breathe creativity and anyone who is creative or artistic. It often feels like a disease to constantly have to be creating new things in order to feel satisfied with life. My background is in interactive and graphic design. I come from the agency world where I’m constantly designing products, websites, or concepts for other people or businesses. In many cases, you can’t let yourself be empathetic to your own work because you know it can change drastically and the client is really all that matters. So, in order for a lot of creative people to feel fulfilled, they look to passion projects. It’s pretty safe to say that most working creatives out there are scheming on the side and working long hours on side projects of their own because 1) they need to fuel their passion like it’s a drug and 2) they’re in control. So all of this leads back to Life & Thyme. I wanted to have a creative sandbox where design, photography, filmmaking, writing, and storytelling could run wild but with a common goal: documenting the world of food.
LF: Have you always been passionate about food ? And storytelling ?
AD: I grew up in a family where mom was always in the kitchen cooking. As a kid, I didn’t realize I was eating the best homemade Mexican food. No seriously, you can’t beat mom’s cooking. But at the time, I was jealous of my friends that got to eat Happy Meals every day like some beautiful McD commercial. Then you grow up and you learn about the horrors of the food industry. But you also get to learn about the people that are doing it well and in a honest way. I have a soft spot for people that work in the restaurant business. Especially the cooks that slave away over 400 degree ovens and 12+ hour shifts. Then you take a look in the dining room and you have guests that complain about the smallest little thing—like having to wait five extra minutes for their plate. This stark contrast between the front of the house and the back of the house is something many people don’t think about. It might have taken 10 minutes to receive a dish in front of you, but the cooks have already been working 10 hours straight—starting at the farmers market to procure the ingredients. As for storytelling, I love it in all its forms but especially in cinema and when you can accomplish it through design. Good storytelling allows you to experience life in different perspectives, allows you to gain an appreciation to new ideas, and it allows you to feel emotion.
LF: What inspired you to bring the two together ?
AD: There is a whole lot of horse crap in the media and on television when it comes to food. It’s actually pretty depressing. Food is the one thing that we all have in common, so why not make it beautiful, inspiring, and treat it with the same level of respect as the people that are feeding us? I never wanted to create a publication that simply broke news on the hot new restaurant opening or whether cupcakes were still a cool thing. Instead, I wanted to learn about stories of people, their hardships, and their passion. Many consumers are just not aware why that cup of coffee is $5, or why the meat at that boutique shop is far more than at Vons, or why fruit is far more expensive at the farmers market. Food is an incredibly complex thing in our society. So our goal has been to connect people with beautiful stories about food culture that can educate, inspire, and entertain. Having this common goal would allow us to work with amazing photographers, writers, and filmmakers that believe that a better food world can exist or at least be represented in a better way.
LF: What’s your absolute favorite dish ?
AD: My weakness is tacos. Any kind—as long as they’re tacos. You literally need to pull me away or I will eat them all until there are no more tacos.
LF: What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on so far?
AD: It’s tied between our short films on Handsome Coffee Roasters and Proprietors LLC (who recently opened Honeycut in Downtown Los Angeles). Having the opportunity to really learn about the craft of coffee and cocktails was such a treat. It goes so beyond than just liquid in a cup—it’s so fascinating. Sidenote: I’m now addicted to Handsome Coffee. Both projects also allowed me to work with some of the most talented filmmakers that put their heart and soul into the work—I’m lucky to have them as good friends. It goes back to giving creatives control and a sandbox to experiment—it’s an amazing collaboration process. We wanted to tackle each one as a cinematic short film rather than a documentary or commercial. The result was something very romanticized, poetic, and shot in a way that would resemble a film.
LF: What kind of experience do you want your readers to have when browsing Life & Thyme ?
AD: People crave good stories but the delivery of it plays a major role. All those late nights learning design and code many years ago prepared me in creating this platform. I wanted the reading experience to feel like a magazine but allow the photography to really draw you in. Believe it or not, fashion played a huge factor in my inspiration. Fashion is an industry that thrives on storytelling, good design, and a romanticized state of reality. All of our stories are real stories about people. It’s important to let the content shine by complimenting it with a clean and refined infrastructure. Through the design, photography, films, and writing, we hope our viewers can resonate with our perspective on what makes food culture so special or learn about something new that is normally hidden.
LF: What’s next for you and your team ?
AD: We want to continue cultivating our community, connecting with them offline through events, dinners, instagram meetups, and expanding our contributor base to reach new areas around the globe. When we first started, L&T was mainly content from Los Angeles, but now we have stories from San Francisco, Nashville, Chicago, New York, France, Rwanda, England, and many more to come. It’s important for us to showcase the perspective of different areas and of different people through our contributors. The “online” magazine is only the first step in expanding our content in a variety of mediums—both offline and online. So you might see Life & Thyme products in the future that can function well within our ecosystem. Meanwhile, we’ve also launched our production company to offer creative services within the culinary, travel, and hospitality world.