From Newsstand Studios at Rockefeller Center: Radio Cherry Bombe
When Kerry Diamond leapt into the food world, she did so as a neophyte. The native New Yorker and full-time executive became a restaurateur and was quickly immersed and educated in the food business. She went on to co-own and operate several restaurants and Smith Canteen, a popular Brooklyn coffee shop, over the years.
It was this outsider’s perspective that allowed Diamond to see not only the problems and sexism within the food world, but a need for creating a celebratory space for women in the industry. The solution came in Cherry Bombe magazine, launched in 2013, and “Radio Cherry Bombe,” the podcast, in 2015. Since then, Cherry Bombe has grown into a successful independent media company that “celebrates women in and around the world of food and drink.”
And women are here for it. Cherry Bombe fans, known affectionately as the “Bombesquad,” number more than 177K on Instagram and have helped “Radio Cherry Bombe” consistently rank among the Top 200 podcasts in Apple’s Arts category (the only US female-focused food podcast to do so, according to Apple rankings). To date, “Radio Cherry Bombe” has produced more than 350 episodes — first at Heritage Radio and then independently — and recently moved into Newsstand Studios at Rockefeller Center.
The Center Magazine spoke with Diamond about her podcast and all things Cherry Bombe.
First of all, “Cherry Bombe” is such a great name. Where did it come from?
Kerry Diamond: It literally just popped into my brain one day…fully formed with the ‘e’ at the end and everything. It's a few things: ‘Cherry Bomb’ is a great song by the band The Runaways; it was fronted by Joan Jett. It's a firework. Bombe is a French ice cream dessert. Bomb is also a bomb. I always say when you put all those things in a blender…you get us. I'm grateful that name popped in my head because it really does encapsulate everything we're about.
So, is “Radio Cherry Bombe’s” typical listener someone who dines out a lot or the home cook?
KD: I think it's both. We try to touch all facets of the industry. One thing to keep in mind about women in food is that so many parts of the industry were shut to them. Not too long ago, they couldn't become the executive chef. Some restaurants wouldn't hire women for any position. Women who loved food had to find other ways into the industry. So, they did things like become a private chef. They became food stylists, food photographers, food editors...they started their own businesses. There's a lot of resilience in our community. The common denominator is they all just have this tug toward food and it can be as a professional or even just as a [consumer]. Even if you just love going out to eat or buying cookbooks, Cherry Bombe is great for you because you get to learn about all these different people.
“Radio Cherry Bombe” features such a diverse and wide range of guests.
KD: Food has become so interesting and exciting over the past few years that you've got all these different people dipping their toes into the world of food: designers, artists, musicians. Food intersects in so many ways with so many categories. [A recent episode features] New York Fashion designer named Rachel Antonoff. She's become known for a lot of these really whimsical food prints. She has a dress with this incredible cookie pattern that came out this summer, she has pajamas with pasta on it, she has a very popular sweater with a bagel. She’s also kind of became famous for doing a sweater that had a uterus on it, so it's that intersection of food, fashion, and feminism, which is very reflective of what we care about.
How did you make the transition from beauty to food, and what was that like?
KD: I started dating a chef, and he asked if I wanted to open a restaurant. I said yes, not knowing anything about that world. It was a modern southern restaurant in Brooklyn. I knew nothing about restaurants and I got educated very quickly.
When I entered the industry, my immediate reaction was, “What's going on here? Why are the stories of these white male, executive chefs being prioritized over everybody else?” As someone who had spent so much time at women-centric companies…to all of a sudden be in an industry that didn’t prioritize women really caught my attention.
Things have gotten better but it’s still a male-centered industry, isn’t it?
KD: It still is. Me Too revealed that and the problems that persist. Not a month goes by that there’s not another story in the [New York] Times or Eater about harassment and other issues in the workplace. When I opened my first restaurant with my partner, I was very shocked at what was going on. Initially, I just wanted to tell the stories of women. I quickly realized there was a lot more going on here than just telling stories. Women were being excluded in multiple ways, which is why we expanded into some of the things like live events.
You’re speaking of the women’s food conference you started, Jubilee, right?
KD: Yes. Jubilee started because I read an article in Eater where women were being left out of conferences around the world. That’s where all the networking takes place…so this means they’re not getting PR opportunities, or meeting potential business partners. So, what was meant to be a magazine has become something bigger.
Tell me more about Jubilee. It’s a conference but is there food tasting?
KD: Yes. It’s the largest gathering of women in food in the U.S. It’s so much fun. [Smiles.] We have incredible speakers like Ina [Garten], Padma Lakshmi, Alice Waters, Ruth Reichl. We do a lot of fun food situations. One of our favorite things to do is pair two different women [and have them create a food] bite. [Attendees] can go around and try all of these incredible collaborations. But we’re rethinking Jubilee though because what is an in-person conference today? How do you do it differently, safely, and even more special?
How many Jubilees have you held?
KD: We’ve done nine jubilees, one in Seattle, one in San Francisco, and all the rest have taken place in New York City. Early bird tickets for 2022 are on sale now. That will take place in Brooklyn. Maybe one day it will take place at Rockefeller Center.
Where did you record “Radio Cherry Bombe” before Newsstand Studios?
KD: Pre-pandemic, we used to be on tour all the time…visiting about two dozen cities a year. We were recording live episodes, and it was really fun. It was like “Radio Cherry Bombe” meets “The Moth Radio Hour.” [Smiles.] We would have a five-minute talk, and then we would have a panel of really interesting individuals from those different cities. We did everything from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon, and everywhere in between.
How did you end up at Newsstand Studios?
KD: Our show is the number one female-focused food podcast in the country. So, I guess that's how they found us. We're so thrilled. It’s such a professional high point. I'm so honored to be here. Every week it remains a ‘pinch me’ moment.
Can you say more about what makes it a “pinch me” moment?
KD: The very first concert I saw was R.E.M. at Radio City Music Hall, I think it was ‘84 or ’85. [Years later,] I worked at L'Oreal, which was right around the corner, so I ate a million business lunches at Rock Center. I just…took my goddaughter to Top of the Rock. It was so spectacular. [Also] we like to do our shows in person whenever possible, and it's a thrill for the guests to come to Rockefeller Center. That just adds a whole other layer to the experience. And the food options that exist there right now are so much fun. They're redoing so many of the restaurants; Rockefeller Center is well on its way to becoming a real foodie destination.