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Why is this interesting? - The Monday Media Diet with Aishwarya Iyer
On deliberate consumption, incredible hotels, and a food memoir worth your time
Aishwarya Iyer (AI) launched the olive oil brand Brightland. It’s delicious, and the brand has been beautifully executed, defying a lot of the aesthetic conventions of the category. You can go more in-depth on the company itself in an earlier convo here, but today we’re digging into how she stays informed and feeds her brain. - Colin (CJN)
Tell us about yourself.
I’m the founder and CEO of Brightland. I live in LA, previously lived in New York City for 10+ years, and originally from Texas. I’ve been championing analog > digital and have been trying to stay off of my phone for the last 12 months, only to find myself on it more than ever because it is now the only way I can see loved ones and interact with the world. What a strange time.
Describe your media diet.
Morning: New York Magazine, Girls Night In, The New York Times
Afternoon: The Juggernaut, The Counter, Eater LA
Weekends: Garance Dore’s newsletter, Coveteur, The Gentlewoman
All the time: NYT Cooking, The Kitchn
What’s the last great book you read?
Save Me The Plums by Ruth Reichl. I usually don’t love food memoirs, but this book pulled me into the nostalgia of the late 90s food publishing world in a beautiful way. I haven’t stopped thinking about Ruth’s gorgeous writing.
What are you reading now?
I am in a book club with my mom and sister, and this month is mom’s pick. She chose The Forest of Enchantments, by Chitra Banerjee-Divakaruni. Many of Chitra’s books tell stories from epic Indian tales from the female perspective - which has never really been shared before.
What’s your reading strategy when you pick up a print copy of your favorite publication?
Tear through it way too quickly and immediately regret that it’s finished, and then I go back and re-read and earmark things, desperately trying to savor everything I rushed through the first time.
Who should everyone be reading that they’re not?
What is the best non-famous app you love on your phone?
TikTok. Just kidding - I would say it’s Clue, a fantastic period tracker app.
Plane or train?
These days, I’ll take anything to be able to see family and friends who are out of state and outside of the US...but in the meantime: long-ish road trips in the car, lots of car snacks (south Indian tamarind rice, idlis, and chocolate chip cookies) and two dogs in tow.
What is one place everyone should visit?
I have been dreaming about going back to Svatma, in Tamil Nadu, India. Tamil Nadu is a state in Southern India, where I was born. Svatma is an incredible jewel box heritage hotel in a quiet lane in Tanjore, Tamil Nadu, and has been lovingly designed and restored as a testament to Tamilan art and culture. It is one of the most special places I’ve ever been to and I cannot wait until our world is in a place where people can visit it again. Fun fact: Svatma's literal translation is 'one's own soul',
Tell us the story of a rabbit hole you fell deep into.
Brightland originated from a rabbit hole that I fell into after learning about the scandal that plagues the global olive oil industry! But more recently...last week after watching Frozen II, I was shocked by the sheer number of people who were involved, in the credits, so I spent over 5 hours pausing the screen on various names and googling all of them to learn what they do...I now know what a “crowds artist” and a “looks development artist” does!
Thanks for reading,
Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN) & Aishwarya (AI)
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