10 Years of Life & Thyme

January 20, 2023

10 Years of Life & Thyme

A look back at how it all began.

Illustrations by Cesar Diaz

2012 — Year Zero

Life & Thyme began around a dinner table. Writers, photographers and artists gathered for an evening of food and conversation hosted by our founder, Antonio Diaz. As forks clattered and dishes were passed, the table grew to include more creatives.

What started at these dinners grew when a band of curious rebels from the suburbs of Los Angeles sought to learn about who was behind the food they were eating. We started telling stories through food essays, recipes and photo essays. 

Soon, we were venturing into places like the Arts District to cover local restaurants and businesses.

2013 — Year One

Life & Thyme grew beyond Los Angeles, and took a trip up to The Bay. Our first film,  A Look into Samovar Tea Lounge was released, followed by one on Chef Thomas McNaughton. We documented the story of Handsome Coffee Roasters, and went behind the scenes with Proprietors LLC to learn more about the specialty cocktail world. Little did we know this was the start of something new. 

But for the meantime, the dinners continued, and the community grew. 

2014 — Year Two

In a past life, Antonio worked in graphic design, and print was calling. We launched a kickstarter and raised over 20k to start a Life & Thyme print magazine. 

We released two more short films, COOK and PRELUDE. This production thing that started in the background began to grow and take on a life of its own. 

2015 — Year Three

Our first issue of Life & Thyme’s quarterly print magazine hit the shelves, and coffee tables around town. We told stories from around the world, but a series on the California drought is the one that hit home for us. 

We launched an offshoot digital magazine focusing entirely on cocktail culture called In Good Spirits. It failed. 

2016 — Year Four

Two more issues of Life & Thyme’s printed magazine were released before it was shuttered. But as fate would have it, one thing ended to make room for the next.

Season one of The Migrant Kitchen came to fruition in partnership with KCET / PBS SoCal. With no prior experience with long-form documentaries, we hit the ground running. We launched with five episodes, telling the story of Los Angeles through the cuisine of immigrant communities.

2017 — Year Five

The Migrant Kitchen is nominated for an Emmy and a James Beard Award. We win an Emmy, but lose the James Beard. But The Migrant Kitchen season 2 is greenlit, and releases in the fall. 

But in Los Angeles, our attention is still on the community and we host our first charity event in collaboration with Ace Hotel. We put together a photo exhibition highlighting female chefs in Los Angeles to raise money for Planned Parenthood, and raised over 10k in one evening.

2018 — Year Six

We win another Emmy, lose another James Beard, and get greenlit for another season of The Migrant Kitchen. A pattern seems to be developing.

But Life & Thyme is growing in every direction. We started our membership program, making L&T reader funded, and continue to expand our coverage around the world, and out of the world with a series on The Sustenance of Space with the help of NASA scientists.

2019 — Year Seven

Another Emmy win, another James Beard loss, 2019 was status quo for us. But print makes its return with Life & Thyme Post, a 16 page newspaper. Our inaugural issue was focused on coffee with an investigative piece on the growing struggles of coffee and climate change, and was followed by The Migration Issue and The Winter Issue.

2020 — Year Eight

The world stopped when COVID-19 hit. It devastated the industry that Life & Thyme was built for, and around. We became a soapbox for the industry itself, sharing letters from chefs and producers around the world with our Coronavirus Diaries and reporting on restaurants finding ways to stay open. Our production work is put on hold except for one project – Boiling Point. We had to do something and Boiling Point was it. The 22 minute documentary focused on the collapse of the restaurant industry using remote interviews with chefs, producers, and more.

Even though we couldn’t gather in person, we stayed connected through webinars including The State and Future of Global Foodways, Designing for the Post-Covid restaurant, A Conversation about Queerness in the Modern Food Industry, and Building Life & Thyme’s Editorial and the Current State of Journalism.

Our journalism reflected our time at home with The At Home issue of Life & Thyme Post, and The Reboot Issue looking to the future and ways to rebuild our systems. We also looked around the world to amplify voices including Marlon Hall in Marlon Hall on Being Black During the Movement, and farmers in Palestine in Palestine and the West Bank Agricultural Struggle.

2021 — Year Nine

The year opened with The Tradition Issue of Life & Thyme Post, with stories focusing on cultural traditions across borders. 

At home, we started production on the fourth season of The Migrant Kitchen, our biggest season yet. The season was set to travel across the country telling stories from Los Angeles to Houston to Puerto Rico.

Our journalism grew as well – we published pieces around the #EndSARS protests in Nigeria, India’s Farmers’ protests, the struggles of Argentina fishermen, the complex identity of Turkish Armenians, and more.

2022 — Year Ten

Year Ten was one of our busiest yet. The Migrant Kitchen was released and we had the chance to screen episodes in Los Angeles, Houston and Puerto Rico. Nothing can replace being able to share a story like that in front of the community that it is about. 

In Los Angeles we spent time reconnecting with the Life & Thyme Community. We hosted Spirits of Los Angeles at ROW DTLA, and conversations with NeueHouse. Antonio opened his house for a Supper At Casa Carlton, and we partnered with The Britely to have a conversation with the producer of The Bear, Courtney Storer. 

But most importantly, we hosted Life & Thyme Night Market at kodo in the Arts District. It was a culmination of childhood dreams, and ten years of work. We transformed a restaurant into a cyberpunk night market inspired by art, music and video games and worked with chefs to bring a new generation of street food to life. 

And to wrap up the year, we went back to our roots in short films. We released Duck Tamal with Wes Avila just in time for the holiday season.

2023 — A Year Worth Exploring

With every new year, we embark on new adventures, stories and projects that feed our curiosity and hunger for making an impact. We can’t wait to see what lies ahead but above all, we’re grateful for you, for joining us on this journey.


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