Kate Berry started her blog Lunch Lady in 2013, after her nine-year-old daughter was bullied at school for her lovingly homemade lunches. It became a space to share and celebrate their natural, delicious family meals.
When magazine publisher Louise Bannister stumbled on the site, she saw its potential as a print publication. “‘I got goosebumps straight away,” she says. “I knew it needed to be alive in print.”
Bannister and her business partner, creative director Lara Burke, helped create publications frankie, Smith Journal and SPACES. They now run We Print Nice Things, a boutique publishing house that enabled Lunch Lady to make the leap from blog to magazine.
The first issue of Lunch Lady was released this month, and its classic-yet- playful aesthetic is testament to their passion and know-how.
Berry’s nourishing, kid-friendly recipes – think seasonal treats such as upside-down plum cake, blueberry and coconut icy poles and pumpkin-and-lentil rolls – make up the bulk of the contents. Lunch Lady also features interviews with creative parents; photographic spreads; and personal essays on family, parenting and food.
High-profile contributors include Yumi Stynes (on the chaos and wonder of having four children) and Helen Razer (on retro kitchen aesthetics). One of the magazine’s loveliest aspects is its honest, personal stories of parenting from everyday mums and dads.
“As parents, a lot of us don’t really know what we’re doing,” says Bannister. “Lunch Lady is a place where we can come together in a non-judgemental space, in a bright, happy, inclusive environment and have a laugh about it. We’re so lucky we get to be parents and still be creative.”
A highlight of the inaugural issue is a striking essay by Berry, detailing a haphazard road trip to Uluru and back that she and her young daughters undertook in a beaten-up old Holden. It’s funny and raw; the baking desert heat lifts off the page.
While family (and food) is central to Lunch Lady’s concerns, there is no proscription or judgement about what form this might take. “There’s so much guilt around parenting, it’s always about to-do lists and achieving,” says Bannister. “But there’s no wrong or right way. It’s one big happy mess, and let’s just revel."