Edible San Antonio: A Family Affair

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The Covo family at Edible San Antonio's launch party, Sept. 2013 (from left: Publisher Frederic Covo, Texas Poet Laureate Carmen Tafolla, Editor-in-Chief Angela Covo, Associate Editor Delia Covo, former San Antonio mayor and current HUD Secretary Julián Castro, Creative Director Sophie Covo, Director of Business Development Christopher Covo). Photo by Earl Nottingham.

Edible San Antonio Magazine is all about food, but it’s also about family. The bimonthly publication arrived on the scene a little more than two years ago, when the local food culture reached a tipping point. Edible San Antonio focuses on the people of San Antonio while giving a voice to the chefs, farmers and food artisans who have greatly preserved and revolutionized the culinary scene in our beloved city.

Today, issues of Edible San Antonio can be found at the San Antonio Airport, most farmers markets and restaurants, shops and hotels and even visitor information centers throughout the city. The secret behind the beloved publication’s success is the Covo family.

Frederic “Freddie” and Angela Covo arrived in San Antonio 20 years ago and never looked back. Freddie, then a master chocolatier, ran an artisanal chocolate business called Normandie Chocolat in New York City, while Angela was beginning a career with a Wall Street firm. The young couple lived behind the chocolate shop in East Harlem with their three small children, Sophie, Christopher and Delia.

The family visited San Antonio on the suggestion of close family friend, and instantly fell in love with the city, so they decided to move and start a new adventure in San Antonio. After learning to slow down after a fast paced life in New York, Freddie encouraged Angela to work on a writing career, which led to a position as the Managing Editor and Senior Writer at La Prensa. Freddie honed his skills and built a career as a professional home inspector.

Almost 20 years after they moved to San Antonio, Angela stumbled upon a regional publication of Edible Communities when she was strolling through the Pearl Farmers Market one morning. Edible Communities is a well-known licensing and information services company that hosts a network of independent, locally-owned Edible magazines in culinary regions throughout the United States and Canada, where individuals can venture out and create content about their own cities.

“We discovered Edible Communities at the Pearl Farmers Market and quickly learned there was no Edible San Antonio. How could that be? How could the seventh largest city in the country not have this fabulous publication that shines a light on local food–a city where the culinary scene is growing exponentially?” Angela asked.

The absence of an Edible Magazine in San Antonio sparked a new dream for Angela.

 

Despite the dream, the right to publish and build the magazine was an expensive reality, and other like-minded people in the San Antonio community were talking about the possibility of bringing the acclaimed publication to San Antonio.

“When the chance to embark on this latest adventure seemed to be slipping away, Freddie and the family came to the rescue,” Angela said. “For Mother’s Day, they presented me with the means to the dream.”

For the Covos it became a chance to give back to the city that had received them so warmly, and a way for the now grown up Covo children to use their many talents and contribute to the magazine.

“Everybody is involved,” Freddie said. “The kids love to meet the wonderful local producers and learn about what they do. They each have a role– Sophie is the Creative Director, Chris works on business development and Delia helps edit. Sophie’s husband, Louis Gonzales helps with everything, and Chris’s wife, Amanda, writes great features. My sister Bettina in New York also adds great depth to our coverage.”

In Sept. 2013, Edible San Antonio held an official launch party at the Pearl Stable with an unveiling of the first issue. Former San Antonio Mayor and current HUD Secretary Julián Castro was present to congratulate the Covo family and Edible staff. Castro also introduced Texas Poet Laureate Carmen Tafolla, who performed a poem she wrote for the first issue titled, “At the Table of Cariño.”

Chefs, farmers, food connoisseurs and other important community members were quick to show their support for Edible San Antonio. The magazine features writing from passionate contributors from all walks of life, who are eager to tell stories about the local food scene in San Antonio.

Iris Gonzalez also writes for the Rivard Report.

Iris Gonzalez also writes for the Rivard Report.

Contributor Iris Gonzalez, who has written for Edible San Antonio for about a year, recalled when she first met Angela at the River Whey Creamery booth at the Pearl Farmers Market.

“I had developed a recipe using a fresh cheese from a local cheese maker (River Whey Creamery),“ Gonzalez said. “Angela happened to admire the recipe card and said she would love to use the recipe for the next issue.”

Gonzalez admired the quality of the publication and knew she wanted to be a part of magazine even before she met Angela.

“I pitched various ideas to her and she really liked one,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve been writing for every issue since.”

The Culinary Institute of America’s campus in San Antonio has only reaffirmed the need for a publication like Edible in the city. Gonzalez credited the magazine, along with new food locations and chefs graduating from the CIA with raising the profile for San Antonio as a culinary destination.

Chef Elizabeth Johnson agrees. A former CIA instructor, and the current chef and owner of Pharm Table Café, Johnson has noticed the positive change it has brought and the enthusiasm it has garnered from other local chefs.

Johnson believes that the quality reporting and the understanding of local trends and traditions are what makes Edible San Antonio special.

“Edible San Antonio doesn’t just cover chefs, but the growers, which is really important,” Johnson said. “You also need to learn about farmers, the people that are behind the entire local food movement,” she said.

Elizabeth Johnson cooks up a meal during a recent pop-up dinner. Photo by Karla Held.

Elizabeth Johnson cooks up a meal during a recent pop-up dinner. Photo by Karla Held.

The family visits farms and ranches all across the region, which includes local growers, and actively seeks stories to inform and educate the public.

Thien and Mark Gretchen from Gretchen Bee Ranch in Seguin met the Covos at the Pearl Farmers Market, where they used to sell their honey and handmade bee’s wax products. The Covos were enthusiastic about the couple’s work with the bees, and supported their goal to help restore the region’s honeybee population.

“They really helped us,” Thien said. “They really just got behind it and we appreciated them doing a story to get the word out about us, our ranch, beekeeping and creating awareness so people could contribute.”

In addition to supporting local heroes and hardworking chefs in the magazine, Edible San Antonio supports many local nonprofits like Tango of the Vines, SA Time Dollar, Dress For Success SA, the San Antonio Food Bank and The San Antonio Cocktail Conference.

The San Antonio Cocktail Conference, a Houston Street Charities event created by Chef Mark Bohanan of Bohanan’s Prime Steaks and Seafood, supports children’s charities. According to Cathy Siegel, director of Houston Charities and the organizer of all the moving parts of the San Antonio Cocktail Conference, Edible San Antonio actively supports organizations that give back to the community in a significant way.

“Edible has been a good partner in that process, the same way they are to everyone in San Antonio. I think the Covos have made it their mission to be supportive of those things that are true San Antonio,” Siegel said. “They’re not about the big chains or grandiose ideas, they are about supporting those people and places that come from here and the surrounding regions.”

Executive Director of Houston Street Charities Cathy Siegel (right) and Scott Becker of Bohanan's enjoy a cup of coffee. Photo by Scott Ball.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Executive Director of Houston Street Charities Cathy Siegel (right) and Scott Becker of Bohanan’s enjoy a cup of coffee. Photo by Scott Ball.

Siegel explained that farmers, local producers and restaurants greatly benefit from the magazine’s support and endorsement.

“The Covos go out of their way to be supportive of the Chef community and extend their hand as a friend to the people in the industry, and that’s very special,” she said.

Local chefs including Chef Michael Sohocki, of Restaurant Gwendolyn and Kimura, have also contributed to the magazine. On the last page of every issue, readers can find “The Last Bite,” where Sohocki shares his point-of-view as a professional chef and member of the food community.

According to Sohocki, who is also a member of Edible’s Advisory Council, the Covos make it a point to share information about San Antonio’s sustainable food movement and give a spotlight to those who are trying to do something unique and remarkable.

Chef Michael Sohocki poses for a photo after the lunch rush at Kimura, right around the corner from Gwendolyn. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Chef Michael Sohocki poses for a photo after a lunch shift at Kimura, right around the corner from Gwendolyn. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

“It is written in this town and for these people, not for some multimillion dollar conglomerate monster,” Sohocki said. “Edible San Antonio has tried very hard to have no favoritism or preferential treatment for or against any company. They do a wonderful job of assembling a magazine that represents what they think is important, not who it will look good for them to represent. That’s hard to come by today.”

The Edible San Antonio Advisory Council is comprised of a dozen prominent chefs and community leaders who share their expertise and provide feedback for the publication.

Chef Chuck Hernandez, who recently opened downtown’s farm-to-table restaurant O’liva at Plaza de Armas, is one of those advisors. He sees his role as helping to promote the magazine, which he believes to be part of the fabric of the city now.

He explained Edible SA helps educate people about the evolutionary journey of food. “My task is to keep an eye and ear out to our central Texas experience so that they too may become stories one day,” Hernandez said.

“Edible San Antonio shares our goal of bringing together a community of sustainable practices and like-minded crafted products, and they have a broad reach, covering restaurants, the people that own or operate them, or the farmers and ranchers that supply them,” Hernandez added. “The Covo family is an inspiration to any community—I am grateful they chose San Antonio.”

Chef Johnny Hernandez, the kingpin behind La Gloria, El Machito, and other popular food ventures, often advises the Covos, sharing his own small business experiences.

“I know the struggle of a small business, I’ve been a small business owner for 21 years, so I know how challenging it can be,” Hernandez said. “(Edible) is a business that needs to be successful because we need their presence in San Antonio, it’s a part of our culinary movement.”

Speaking to Edible’s humble beginning, he commends the Covo family for stepping up to the challenge. Hernandez said a lot of people talked about the possibility of having Edible in San Antonio, but the Covos were the ones who had the courage to take the risk.

“That’s what entrepreneurship and leadership is all about, putting your hard earned money behind what you believe,” Hernandez said. “They’re a strong family, that’s why they are successful, that’s why they’re growing, and that’s why they’re getting better.”

Chef Johnny Hernandez poses for a photo alongside a mural outside of La Gloria. Photo by Scott Ball.

Chef Johnny Hernandez poses for a photo alongside a mural outside of La Gloria. Photo by Scott Ball.

Freddie believes the local factor is key to the magazine’s popularity and future success, because local people will support local publications.

“I’m genuinely surprised at how quickly the magazines go–I sometimes find it hard to keep up,” Freddie said. “We just started our third year and while we still have much to accomplish before we say the magazine is successful, I think local media, like local food, will continue to be very popular because it keeps our dollars invested here and it’s good for the community in so many ways.”

Ultimately, the Covo family just wants people to take pride in San Antonio.

“San Antonio is a very positive and friendly city, and the spirit of San Antonio should be reflected in our pages,” Angela added.

 

*Top image: The Covo family at Edible San Antonio’s launch party, Sept. 2013 (L to R: Publisher Frederic Covo, Texas Poet Laureate Carmen Tafolla, Editor-in-Chief Angela Covo, Associate Editor Delia Covo, former San Antonio Mayor and current HUD Secretary Julián Castro, Creative Director Sophie Covo, Director of Business Development Christopher Covo). Photo by Earl Nottingham.

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