Magazine seniors combine their love of food, publishing in Baked magazine

By Emily Kulkus

December 8, 2014

Teresa Sabga jokes that she doesn’t have any friends. That’s because the magazine senior at the Newhouse School has been holed up in her off-campus apartment for months now, cooking, baking, writing, directing, editing, blogging and planning Baked magazine—a labor of love that recently published its second print issue on her watch.

Sabga and fellow magazine senior Gabriela Riccardi spent the fall 2014 semester breathing new, inspired life into Baked, which has had a rollercoaster existence on campus for several years.

The 56-page fall issue, which features colorful graphics and design, dozens of stories, staff-tested recipes, professional-looking photography and links to complementary online and social content, is getting plenty of attention this semester. Sabga and Riccardi say they distributed about 150 copies of Baked at Newhouse and other points on campus the last Monday of classes. By 9 a.m. the following morning, Riccardi says she could only find a few remaining copies.

“The content is evergreen,” Riccardi says. “Trends fade away but you can always bake your grandmother’s apple pie.”

Ask Sabga and Riccardi anything about food or publishing and they gush. The co-editors, both of whom plan to graduate from Syracuse University in May, interrupt each other, finish each other’s sentences and say their favorite thing to do is drink wine and eat good cheese on a Friday night. The idea that food brings people together is at the heart of Baked, the editors say.

“Food is very communal. There’s always such a back story,” Sabga says. “Food has histories, ties, traditions and cultures—we want people to read about those here.”

The editors say their website has drawn about 25,000 visitors from countries around the world (Sabga is from Trinidad and Riccardi is from Paramus, New Jersey) and the magazine’s Instagram account has nearly 1,800 followers. When asked how many hours went into this issue, both Sabga and Riccardi toss their heads back and laugh.

“Hundreds,” Sabga says. “Easily hundreds. I don’t have a social life and I love it.”

 

They’ve struck a nerve with readers but also with contributors. There are 33 students listed in the masthead and Sabga says most of those students attend Newhouse and no one is getting paid. The co-editors are stepping down to allow more junior staff to run the magazine next semester. They will help and consult the new editors in the spring in the hope that Baked will continue publishing after they graduate.

Baked has received $2,000 in student fee funding for the last two semesters. That money went toward publishing 500 print copies per issue, Sabga says. The women say they spent about $500 on food and ingredients to put this issue together. They also spent about $200 on props and accessories, which Riccardi says will go into the “Baked closet,” for future staff to use.

Sabga says she also wants to create a formal guide on what it takes to start a publication on campus. She hopes it will help future students navigate publishing at SU.

“You learn a lot when you don’t know what you’re doing and you try to do everything yourself,” she says.

Newhouse professor and magazine department chair Melissa Chessher is the faculty adviser to Baked magazine. Chessher encouraged Sabga to take over Baked and make it her own, Sabga says. The staff’s hard work has paid off, Chessher says.

“From the mouth-watering cookie cover to the clever, social-media back page, this little magazine packs a powerful and professional editorial punch,” Chessher says. “In fact, it’s a challenge to avoid using foodie language to describe how wonderful it looks and reads. It’s satisfying, filled with loads of great eye candy and it gives the reader a lot to chew on. With great story ideas, imaginative photography and engaging type treatment, they’ve infused this campus favorite with a lot of personality and a decided voice.”

To celebrate Baked’s fall 2014 issue, the staff recruited local vendors to donate food and coffee for a sale in the Schine Student Center on the last day of classes. The students raised $187. The money and the leftover food went to the Samaritan Center, a Syracuse nonprofit that provides meals to the needy.

Working the sale in the Schine atrium, Sabga and Riccardi were the picture of multitasking. They gave direction to their staff on everything from tallying the money to what to do with the leftover coffee. They hugged friends, accepted praise about Baked and answered questions from friends and fans. They are thrilled at the magazine’s success and they are eager to pass it along to the next generation of editors.

They are also looking forward to starting their professional careers. Asked about their dream jobs, the seniors don’t hesitate. For Sabga, it’s working on the TV shows “Chopped” or “Cutthroat Kitchen.” Traveling and eating for National Geographic wouldn’t be bad either, she says. Riccardi is much more specific. She wants to be the cultural commentator for New York magazine. The magazine, she says, has a “genius corner” in its office where staff can go to work, think, whatever.

“I just want to sit near that,” she says. “I don’t even have to sit in it, just near it. That would be enough for me.”

Emily Kulkus '02 is the web content manager for the Newhouse School. Contact her at eakulkus@syr.edu.

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