Coffee With: Kerry Diamond of Cherry Bombe

Apr 07, 2017

Cherry Bombe is an independent magazine that celebrates women in food, shining a well-deserved spotlight in a realm that largely overlooks women. At the helm of this beautiful biannual tome is editorial director Kerry Diamond.

Besides running the editorial side of things at Cherry Bombe, Kerry is also the host of Radio Cherry Bombe and co-owns the Carroll Garden restaurants Nightingale Nine, Smith Canteen, and Wilma Jean with her boyfriend Robert Newton.

We’re over the moon to be joining Kerry this weekend alongside an incredible supergroup of women at Cherry Bombe Jubilee, an annual conference that serves to connect women in food and keep them nourished in body and spirit.

We caught up with Kerry to chat about Jubilee, who is keeping her inspired (and fed) and how she keeps all the plates spinning. Keep an eye out for Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook which launches in October.

You met cofounder Claudia Wu when you were both working at Harper’s Bazaar – how did you know she would be a good collaborator?

We have different skill sets – it’s hard when you have the same exact skill set. Claudia is a Creative Director and really a brilliant designer. And that’s not something in my bandwidth at all. Projects like this take a village.

Take us through the process of a typical magazine cycle. How do you choose your contributors and subjects? Where do you mine for stories?

We get a million emails. We talk about this all the time. We get so many pitches from so many places. It’s almost a painful process having to decide who to pick because everybody deserves to be in the magazine. We started this to help women in the industry by kind of being a cheerleader in a sense.

Everybody is worthy of that – but you only have 144 pages and there are only so many people you can cover. We do theme issues now so that makes it a little easier to narrow it down.

My favorite to date has been the California issue we did. I thought we really captured the spirit in what’s going on in Los Angeles and San Francisco. It’s hard to even scratch the surface but I think we did a nice job.

Let’s talk about the Cherry Bombe Jubilee – what did you set out to create with this event?

It started three years ago around the TIME magazine “Gods of Food” controversy. EATER did a series of stories about female participation in food conferences. It came to light that very few female chefs were invited to speak. And [chef and writer] Gabrielle Hamilton confirmed that.

We had been thinking about doing some kind of event but we were thinking in a few years we were going to do something. After the “Gods of Food” controversy, we said ok, it’s looks like it’s time for us to do an event. It all came together really quickly. And it was a fantastic day.

The first year we had Christina Tosi, Ruth Reichl, Gabrielle Hamilton. It was very exciting. It sold out really fast.

It’s just become this really great day where we get to bring the magazine to life and shine the spotlight on all these incredible women in lots of different ways, whether it's the food, whether it’s a collaboration, or the people we put together on stage.

When we started the magazine, I assumed everyone knew each other in this world and they actually don’t.

What are of the biggest takeaways you’ve learned from the conference in the past?

It’s the networking, it’s the advice you get. Some people have struck business deals there. We’ve seen cookbook deals happen.

Martha Stewart was epic. Everybody wanted to know how she stays so creative and inspired. And she said, she never has her driver down the same street twice. The panel with Suzanne Goin, Christina Muhlke, and Gabrielle Hamilton was about how to have a family and have a career in food. The conclusion of that was you just do your best.

I think that can be said about a lot of things that are discussed at Jubilee. Life is hard. You just do your best.

Christina Tosi gave a really good talk. Her big thing is to essentially create the world you want. You want to see the world a certain way, make the world that way.

Social justice is a theme to this year’s conference. How does social justice play a role in the magazine?

We’re advocates for women. We are doing our part in that sense by making sure women are represented at the table. We try hard to make sure magazine is diverse and that’s important. For a very long time, food media was very white and very male and that needed to change. I’m happy that we’re part of that change.

How is being a woman in the food world a microcosm for the world at large?

It’s always a reminder that life is hard but small gestures can make people really happy.

What women are inspiring you right now?

Honestly the list is so long. I will say we all went to the [Women’s] March. I still feel really galvanized by what happened at the march and I just don’t want us to lose momentum from that.

When millions of women come together, that’s something that can’t be ignored. The big question for me is what do we do next and how do we build on that momentum? I would like to see Cherry Bombe be a part of that.

What’s feeding you right now?

I always go back to Dimes. I’m filled with admiration for how they’ve grown and how they run their business and the beautiful food that they make.

Also there are these two Somali sauces called Basbaas that I love. It’s run by a woman named Hawa. She has an incredible personal story –she’s a refugee from Somalia and she saw this void in the market. One of her sauces is like the ketchup of Somalia. They are just so good.

Do you or have you ever had a mentor?

Oh god, yes, I’ve had a million. In the past, I didn’t think I had mentors because I thought a mentor was someone who was like “I am your mentor, I will teach you how to do things, I will get you your next job,” but I’ve come to realize that mentors come in lots of different forms. It can be someone who you admire, who you learn from by osmosis, or someone who you work with or get to know.

People like Ruth Reichl are great examples. If you were to ask Ruth Reichl ‘are you a mentor of Kerry Diamond?’, She’d probably be like, ‘uh no’. But I have learned so much from how she conducts herself, her career path, what a wonderful, interesting person she is.

I’ve known people who I never would have gotten to where I am if they hadn’t been in my life but also people I just admire from afar who’ve helped me, too.