The student-dining dilemma can be a difficult problem to solve. Few things are as frustrating as finding the perfect sushi restaurant, only to discover a single roll would cost about as much as a six-hour shift at your work-study job. Or maybe you found the perfect dessert recipe online — except for the fact that it calls for several kinds of exotic, organic fruit and a wood-burning stove, and all you have is your standard-issue microwave and some bananas you stole from the dining hall.
Nisreen Galloway, an Emerson College writing, literature and publishing senior, is determined to eliminate all of these problems once and for all with her brainchild, Simmer Magazine.
Simmer is an online food magazine written by college students, for college students. It features reviews of Boston-area restaurants and dorm-appropriate recipes. And while there are few rules at Simmer, Galloway does insist that all recipes posted on the website are original and that the magazine features only restaurants where the highest priced item is $15 or less. This way, Simmer remains faithful to its readers’ realities.
“Simmer doesn’t run by star ratings or mysterious voices. You know you’re getting a college student telling you where college students go. You know it’s going to be budget friendly, it’s going to be chill, it’s going be cool,” Galloway said in an interview.
Galloway, a self-described “foodie” from Ashland, first formed the idea for Simmer as a sophomore after realizing she had become the go-to source for non-foodie friends who struggled to navigate the world of college dining.
“My friends would come to me frequently when they needed a restaurant recommendation or they’d be like, ‘I need a pot! I need a pan!’ … So I decided to create Simmer as a place to give some of that advice,” she said.
At Simmer’s first meeting in fall 2012, it was nothing more than a concept.
“We didn’t have a website, we didn’t have a name. We just knew we wanted to write about food,” Galloway said.
Only seven students showed up at that first meeting. Now the magazine has a staff of 20 and continues to grow. Simmer is constantly in search of additional food-loving student photographers, web developers, web designers, writers and marketers from all colleges and universities around Boston. Most recently, Simmer Magazine has added writers from Northeastern University and Boston College, but Galloway said she hopes that the magazine’s staff will one day have representatives from every school in Boston.
In another effort to cover the Boston culinary scene in its entirety, Simmer is currently in the process of funding a mobile app version of the “Foodie Finder” featured on its website, which is in its beta stage as of now. The Foodie Finder is an interactive map based on the four different T lines that allows readers choose a T stop and then view Simmer’s reviews of nearby restaurants in a matter of seconds.
“It can be really easy when you’re a college student to stay in your two blocks,” Galloway said. “But even in two blocks I bet you there are eight places you haven’t tried yet, even though you walk by them all the time. And if you go four blocks outside of that, it’s a whole new world. Imagine if you got on the T and tried it.”
Before college students will be able to simply open up the Foodie Finder app the next time they feel their stomachs rumbling, Simmer first needs to raise $1,500 to hire a mobile app designer to create the software. The magazine is currently holding a campaign on crowdfunding site RocketHub to raise the funds. The campaign will end on Saturday.
But Simmer’s foray into the business world isn’t limited to the Foodie Finder app. Galloway is also part of Emerson’s Entrepreneurial Studies Program, known as E3, and has been applying the business strategies that she has learned in the program to Simmer.
“The last two years I’ve been developing Simmer content-wise, but this past year I’ve been really focusing on the business side,” she said.
As part of her business plan, Galloway wants to extend Simmer beyond its online presence by developing food tours that target college students, with dorm-friendly food themes like pizza and tacos.
First though, Galloway and Simmer Magazine will be competing against other student entrepreneurs in Emerson’s E3 Exposition on April 19 for a $10,000 prize. If Simmer were to win, that money would go toward funding these food tours. Past E3 winners include Roxy’s Grilled Cheese and Second Glass, the group behind the national wine expo, Wine Riot.
“I’m really happy,” said Galloway of the opportunity to compete in the E3 Exposition. “But [the tours] will happen no matter what.”
Anyone interested in joining the Simmer Magazine team should email [email protected] or enter into the contact form at SimmerMagazine.com.