Loving and Talking About Food with Amanda Burden

When I met Amanda Burden, I was not expecting that someone with the many responsibilities of editing, publishing and producing the award winning magazine Edible Reno-Tahoe, would greet me with a genuinely calm smile, clad in a bright orange chicken shirt. As editor and publisher, Burden manages the content and distribution aspects of producing a magazine that highlights local food and drink in the Reno-Tahoe region.

First Impressions: Rosa and I meet Amanda at Bibo’s Coffee Co.

Edible is a national collection of magazines, with each regional publication owned and managed by a local publisher. Each member publication shares in a philosophy that celebrates and promotes the local food movement by featuring stories that change with the seasons. Burden’s mind is constantly looking for the next story to feature, whether she’s at a coffee shop or talking to a local farmer.

Burden has not always imagined herself as being at the head of a successful food and drink magazine. In her early years of journalism school, she envisioned herself as a foreign war correspondent working for the New York Times. However, her first job out of college was working for the weekly Santa Barbara Independent.

“I really had this goal of being in daily journalism,” Burden said. “But when I got into weekly, I really enjoyed the whole community of the journalism experience.”

In 1991, Burden took a break from writing and opened her own coffee house café, which supported local businesses by incorporating the talents of organic farmers and bakers. After running her restaurant for two years, she returned to journalism and later moved to San Francisco, where she found a job at Red Herring magazine. She moved to Reno in 2001 for a lifestyle change, eventually landing a job working with the Reno Gazette-Journal in the custom publishing department, which had just started Reno magazine.

“Every time I moved I thought: Daily journalism, that’s my passion! No, weekly journalism, that’s my passion! And then magazines, that’s my passion!” Burden said. “You have to go with the flow and be flexible. I learned that I wanted to be an editor for a magazine.”

Early Life Experiences

Burden has always gravitated toward food. She grew up in Santa Barbara where her grammy-winning father designed album covers for rock-and-rollers like Neil Young in the 60s and 70s. Her mother was known as the cook for the central Los Angeles music scene.

“All the rock-and-rollers would come to the house and my dad would talk with them and they’d be all artistic and creative figuring out the album covers,” Burden said. “And my mom would cook for everyone. She had a cookbook and an organic garden so she really had this big influence on me for this organic, hippy, natural food vibe.”

Joni Mitchell describes her mother in the song “Ladies of the Canyon” — Annie sits you down to eat/ She always makes you welcome in/ Cats and babies round her feet/ And all are fat and none are thin/ None are thin and all are fat. Burden’s southern California home was a blend of artistry and fine cooking that shaped her passion for food that was deeply rooted in her family.

Fall 2015 editorial of Edible Reno-Tahoe

Launching Edible Reno-Tahoe

Burden worked for the RGJ for seven years; five of those years she enjoyed being the editor for Reno magazine until she refocused her passion once again.

“For about five of the years I was the editor [for Reno magazine] which was awesome,” Burden said, “And then I got laid off and that’s when I started Edible Reno-Tahoe magazine. After all that I discovered what I really wanted to do.”

She launched Edible Reno-Tahoe in 2010, and ever since its launch, the magazine has built a steady reputation. This is the place that Burden feels is the pinnacle of her dream job.

“It all came full circle when I came to this magazine,” Burden said. “Not only can I be the editor and publisher, run the whole show and own my own magazine, I can also bring in the food element, which was just a perfect fit for me.”

Burden’s life has been colored by fascinating career experiences. Owning Edible Reno-Tahoe meant that she could incorporate her love for food and drink with her passion for journalism and editing a magazine.

“Whatever you’re passionate about, that’s going to become a part of everything you do,” Burden said.