Audrey Scagnelli wants to change the perception of college campuses as bastions of Ramen Noodle-eating students.
Last year, Scagnelli, a sophomore majoring in Political Communication, enrolled in a freshman seminar entitled “Politics of the Kitchen,” which married two of her lifelong passions, food and politics. This experience inspired her to start a food magazine to combine her love of cuisine with her love of communications.
For advice on starting such a magazine, SMPA Professor Steve Roberts put Scagnelli in touch with a number of SMPA alumni who are editors of their own food publications: Rebecca Wilson (JMC ‘08) of Julep magazine and Vanessa Maltin Weisbrod (JMC ‘05) of Delight Gluten-Free Magazine. Weisbrod, in fact, even offered Scagnelli a job as an editorial assistant at Delight, a position she gladly accepted and continues to occupy today.
After conducting extensive research on the business behind starting a magazine, Scagnelli reached out to a number of fellow students, food bloggers, and established food publications from across the country to start generating content. She made the decision to publish her magazine online in order to reach the widest audience possible.
Scagnelli certainly has succeeded on that front. Less than a week after its launch, her online magazine, College & Cook, already has attracted over 2,200 readers through social media word-of-mouth alone. Partnerships with over a dozen other universities have spread readership nationwide.
Launching College & Cook, however, was not without its difficulties.
One article in the magazine tells the tale of a photoshoot gone awry. While preparing for a shoot on campus in Guthridge Hall, a number of magazine staff members forgot about croutons toasting in the oven, causing the bread to catch on fire. While the staff tangled with a fire extinguisher, GW firefighters arrived to save the day. To thank the firefighters who responded to the fire alarm, the magazine staff gave them a tray of napoleon pastries, the very food they had been preparing when the fire began.
“Many readers have told us the firefighter story was their favorite,” laughs Scagnelli. “None of us at the magazine claim to be cooking experts. We just want to share our love of food with other college students. We felt the story showed that we were human, too.”
The magazine staff boasts a number of SMPA students, including Managing Editor Christina Oriel (PCM ‘14) and Staff Writer Jacqui Corba (JMC ‘12). Katie Ross (JMC ‘13) also contributed her journalism skills, co-writing an article about food allergies for the current issue of College & Cook. Scagnelli emphases that the magazine could not have happened if the people she worked with and interviewed had not taken a leap of faith.
“Creating College & Cook definitely has been an adventure, but it has been amazing to work with so many talented people and to see the magazine come to fruition,” says Scagnelli. “My dream is that College & Cook becomes the go-to publication for college students interested in food.”
The magazine is well on its way. The College & Cook team recently was awarded free office space near Dupont Circle via GW’s Office of Entrepreneurship, and representatives from five more universities have reached out to Scagnelli for more information on partnering with the magazine.
The next installment of College & Cook will hit the digital newsstands in April. To read the inaugural issue, click here.