IAP Interview: Chris Yong-Garcia, Producer and Founder of LatinLover Magazine

IAP Interview: Chris Yong-Garcia, Producer and Founder of LatinLover Magazine

“For me, artists are also ambassadors of their country of origin.”

Chris Yong-Garcia believes in the power of food and art to bring people together. In 2011, he started LatinLover Food & Travel Magazine. Chris was born in Peru and has promoted a diverse group of artists, from Quechua sopranos to award-winning filmmakers. He states that collaboration and generosity are keys to his success in sharing Latin American culture in New York.

NYFA: What was your vision for LatinLover Magazine when it started?

CHRIS YONG-GARCIA: The three E’s: enlighten, educate, and entertain. There’s a misconception about the Latin American community in the United States, and we wanted to offer our version of what Latin America is. I think there’s a commonplace about the intensity of our cuisine and the love that we Latinos and Latinas have for it, and for what home means. Home is here but also there, and it’s beautiful and nostalgic. At LatinLover we attempted to create a community for everyone around that love, latinos or non-latinos. That’s why we launched the magazine in English, our shared language.

NYFA: You find many qualities in food and cooking; tell us more.

CYG: I think the origin of the best dishes came out from scarcity, and that fuels creativity. I love cooking, but I’m not so good at following recipes. I just love to do my own thing most of the time, and of course, the results are not always great but I enjoy the process. I love chefs and cooks. For me, they are artists that have to produce expected results all the time under pressure, and we, as clients, are always very demanding, from five-star restaurants to street vendors. They are our everyday artists!

NYFA: You mentioned that you act more as a producer than as an editor. Can you also tell us how you find your collaborators for each issue?

CYG: My background is in design, advertising, and the arts. In the past, I used to work with a few producers, and I’ve always admired them. A good producer gets things done, no matter what. So to launch the magazine, I focused on assembling a team of people who shared my vision and had the expertise I don’t have. It was a fun and intense process to work with amazing editors, writers, photographers, illustrators, and producers. Most of them are my friends or have become my friends; the magazine was possible because of them. We used to send invitations to our network about the current topic; sometimes new contributors were available, sometimes not. Now we are focusing on events in NYC, and in publishing stories with topics related to Latin America and New York.

NYFA: You do a great job introducing people that come from Latin America to the New York scene. Apart from the magazine, you help artists from different disciplines to promote events. How did you acquire the skills and connections to make this happen?

CYG: For me, artists are also ambassadors of their country of origin. LatinLover is a community to empower culture in all of its expressions. We focus on food, but who doesn’t love food? So we try to push any project or idea that is good for our mission.The skills? That’s a long story. Starting in 2008, I had the pleasure to do graphic design work for the Mexican Cultural Institute of New York and work with two amazing guys, Raul Zorrilla (now the director at Kurimanzutto gallery in Mexico City) and Aldo Sanchez (now at El Museo del Estanquillo in Mexico City) and I got inspired by their vision. Somehow I tried to adapt that vision to what was feasible for me to do, a magazine. Connections? In the end, everything is connected. In New York, there are several organizations, projects, and communities pushing for the same goals. We just help each other.

NYFA: Tell us about some of the events you produce.

CYG: We create events where people can feel the Latin vibe through food, music, drinks, and, especially, meeting the artists. We partner up with other institutions, galleries, groups, and friends so we can have our communities mingling together. Over the past year we have produced several events; however, one of the most precious memories I have is of an event we organized on Rockaway Beach in 2014. It was a Ceviche Party. La Cevicheria was our host, and we had a terrific time. We brought a lot of friends from Manhattan to the beach on a Friday afternoon, we had beers, we danced, and we ate ceviche right there on the beach in front of the ocean.

NYFA: Are you looking for collaborators, writers, artists, etc? How can writers or artists get in touch with you?

CYG: Yes, always! Just get in touch with me at [email protected]

Learn more about Chris Yong-Garcia / Creative Director and LatinLover Food & Travel Magazine.

This interview is part of the ConEdison Immigrant Artist Program Newsletter #89. Subscribe to this free monthly e-mail for artist’s features, opportunities, and events here.

– Interview conducted by Alicia Ehni, Editor of the IAP Newsletter and Program Associate, NYFA Learning

Image: Chris Yong-Garcia, 2016, Photo: Pako Dominguez ©

Amy Aronoff
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