PHS students edit and publish their own food and dining magazine
By: Jessica Talarick
Spork, the plastic dining utensil found in many cafeterias, has more than one meaning these at Princeton High School.
Senior Byrne Fahey named the school’s first food and dining magazine after the spoon fork hybrid.
Fahey, Spork’s editor-in-chief, conceived the idea of the magazine the after completing her sophomore year.
Fahey said she remembers taking a survey that had asked her what her dream job was, and she realized her dream job would be to write for the New York Times dining section, in a career that would combine her love of food and journalism.
Then she thought, “Why can’t I just do this now?” And Spork was born.
“I took out a piece of paper and just started planning. I knew I had to at least try,” Fahey said.
She entered her junior year at PHS determined to see her idea in print. Her mother, Anne Fahey, though the idea was great.
“She’s had other entrepreneurial ideas, this is nice because she is old enough to follow through,” Anne Fahey said.
Anne Fahey said her daughter knew exactly what to do, recruiting student staff member, finding a faculty adviser and securing a classroom for meetings.
“It fits so much of her interests,” Anne said. “Writing and cooking. And she has such a flair and talent for those interests.”
Byrne said she her interest in food has been stoked at least in part by her mother’s skill in the kitchen.
“She is an amazing cook. I definitely get it from her,” Byrne Fahey said
In high school, Fahey started dedicating her summer vacations to learning more about cuisine. In 2010, she attended a two-week intensive cooking class.
The following summer, she took her interests abroad, when she went to Italy with her school’s Latin class. After a week of touring with her classmates, she met her mother for a week of cooking classes with two Italian sisters in Puglia. She said each day, the women would gather ingredients from local markets and cook a different dinner menu.
In July 2012, Fahey interned at a restaurant in Boston called Towne. She worked directly with the pastry chef making desserts for daily lunch and dinner services. While interning, Fahey had the opportunity to bake for former President George W. Bush, who was in Boston for a political dinner catered by Towne.
They didn’t order dessert, Byrne said, but she recalled the pastry chef convincing the event planner that the president and former First Lady Laura Bush needed to finish off their meal with something sweet.
Fahey suggested they make mini-blueberry pies, a way to serve the classic American dish without the mess. She wove tiny pie crust lattice tops for the pastries.
Cooking for a former president is one of the Fahey’s many foodcentric memories. She has many others, including many centering on her father, Kevin, who died in a car accident two weeks before her 11th birthday in 2006.
She remembers a family tradition in which she, her father and her brother, Eamon, 20, would make breakfast for her mom every Mothers Day.
Artistic abilities run in the Fahey family. Her mother is a graphic designer and her late father was a creative director at Young & Rubicam advertising agency in New York.
Anne Fahey said her career may have had an influence on her daughter, but Byrne is very independent. Anne said Byrne does not ask for much help designing Spork and has been cultivating her own creativity from a young age.
In fifth grade, Byrne displayed her interests in design, writing and food in a health project. Anne Fahey said Byrne created a recipe for healthy pancakes and presented it an pancake shaped book.
Along with graphic design, cooking is also a family affair.
Anne Fahey said she and her daughter spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Yet Byrne considers herself a picky eater, preferring baking to cooking because she enjoys making sweet treats most.
“I like to make things people don’t realize they can make themselves, I think it makes a bigger impression,” Byrne Fahey said. One of those things is homemade marshmallows.
Byrne is also a vegetarian.
Outside of the kitchen, she keeps busy with many activities at the high school. She just completed her last issue of the The Tower, PHS’ school newspaper. She began as a writer and went on to become the paper’s news and features editor, then its managing editor.
In addition to The Tower, Fahey was a cross country runner, and is a member of student council, serving as senior class treasurer.
Owing to her love of sweets, she said, she had a large role in planning her schools Candyland-themed prom.
Fahey said it takes a staff of about 20 contributors two months to create single four-page issue of Spork. Staff members write reviews, test recipes, create visuals and edit articles. In the most recent edition, which came out last November, the cover story featured a ranking of the area’s pumpkin spice lattes.
Byrne said she wants Spork to be about fun, and tries not to put much pressure on the staff. However, that laissez-faire style sometimes leads to her taking on much of the work much of the work herself, and she admits that she’s not a good delegator.
Her goal is to print five issues of Spork this school year, one more than the magazine’s inaugural year.
The first issue of Spork was published in December 2011. The cover featured a stack of Oreos and three recipes for using them.
“I was nervous for it to come out,” Fahey said, “Then I found out people I didn’t know had tried all the recipes.”
With one issue under her belt and positive feedback like music to her ears, she was ready to continue publishing Spork. Her dilemma was she did not have enough funding to print it.
So she turned to Kickstarter, a website that allows users to upload content about their projects and ask for funding. She set a goal of $1,200 and got a senior she knew to shoot a video. She and Anne sent the video to everyone we knew.
The video, nearly two minutes of high quality shots of cooking followed by an explanation of Spork by Fahey, got viewers attention. They reached their goal in 24 hours, and within a month, had doubled it.
According to Spork’s Kickstarter page, 55 backers donated $2,410. The video can still be seen on the website, kickstarter.com.
The funding helped Spork print more frequently and build a reputation that would hopefully impress future advertisers. (Yes, the magazine does have ads.)
Copies of Spork can be found outside of PHS. The magazines publicist, senior Marielle Kirstein, distributes issues to local salons, libraries and food and dining stores. Kirtstein said community members have told her they like the magazine.
“It’s crazy to think that we’re just high school students and adults are really enjoy it,” Kirstein said.
She hopes to see Spork continue after she graduates.
“If it hangs around, it would be really cool because Byrne would have a legacy,” Kirstein said.
Other staff members listed in the Spork masthead include John Bond, Pia Chakravarty, Jinwoo Chong, Emma Leuchten and Will Xu. The faculty adviser is Kathy Lewis.
Fahey said her approaching graduation and the future of Spork is on her mind.
“I’m trying to focus on what I can do to have it continue,” Fahey said, “my dream is to visit Princeton High School years from now and pick up the latest copy of Spork.”
Fahey said Spork may become bi-yearly publication or a website. As for her own future, Fahey said she recently finished applying to colleges, but does not know where she will be going next fall.
What she does know is she will be part of the food and dining culture.
“In college, if there is a food and dining magazine I will definitely join,” Fahey said, “and if there isn’t I’ll probably start one.”