Fork & Fun: Anuska Frey’s unique island melting pot

People

By the time Anuska Frey first visited Hilton Head Island in 1987, she spoke six languages. Anuska was a young Slovenian-born nurse working in Zürich, Switzerland, when she met her husband, Marc, son of a  Swiss publishing dynasty. Beeing fluent in several languages led Anuska to an opportunity to change her profession and become an assistant to the dean of the faculty at the highly regarded International Management Institute in Geneva, where she managed administration for international seminars in Geneva, Singapore and Hong Kong.

After visiting Hilton Head on their honeymoon in 1987, the Freys were so smitten with the natural beauty of the island that they bought a vacation home on the spot. They decided to move here with their two young sons in 1991. They bought Golfer’s Guide, and later Hilton Head Monthly, bringing Marc’s extensive knowledge and business experience to regional and local periodicals.

While they settled into their surroundings, Anuska immersed herself in rearing their two boys, Fabio and Marco, and became active in several school PTSOs and community arts and cultural activities, including serving eight years on the board of the Island School Council for the Arts. A champion for comprehensive education, Anuska was an avid advocate of the International Baccalaureate program at Hilton Head Island High School, which the Freys’ sons attended. She and Marc have been longtime supporters of the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra and, as a family, they have hosted several participants of the now widely renowned Hilton Head International Piano Competition.

Don KochSeveral years ago, with both sons grown, Anuska got more actively involved in the family publishing business and in Hilton Head Monthly. When the opportunity arose in 2012 to buy the Restaurant Guide from Don Koch, who founded it 30 years ago, the Freys jumped at the opportunity.

The publication was a mainstay in many restaurants’ advertising budgets, as it had become a must-have directory for locals and visitors alike and was available at 120 distribution points including island hotels, timeshares, supermarkets and vacation rentals.      

forkandfun2The publication dovetailed perfectly with the personality, culture and worldly experience Anuska brought to Hilton Head from Europe. In the 1980s and 1990s, Hilton Head was home to a number of European-themed restaurants offering Swiss, German, Greek and Italian cuisine. French food began co-mingling with Cajun kitchens and Lowcountry oyster bars, while an interest in fusion cooking was taking America by storm. Hilton Head had become somewhat of a melting pot of flavors and cooking styles. Immigrants from Europe, South America and Asia brought their families, skills and recipes to the Lowcountry, and introduced their cultures to our friends from Ohio, Georgia, and New Jersey, who had also resettled in the area.

The rising popularity of international cuisine was not lost on the Freys, who travelled extensively throughout Europe and the U.S. And Hilton Head, as a growing resort community and host to international guests and events, was always ahead of the curve with its extensive dining choices.

Anuska took the reins of the Restaurant Guide and brought her own breezy and cerebral touch to the editorial content, while allowing the island’s eclectic society of restaurateurs continue to do what they do best: jazz up the menu section with their own repertoire.

forkandfunThe magazine was renamed Fork & Fun in spring 2013; its website, www.forkandfun.com, was rebuilt and its first online edition was posted. The magazine’s Facebook page also got a facelift. In 2014, a mobile app was developed, and by last December it had been downloaded more than 8,000 times. Anuska, creative director Sasha Sweeney and designer Charles Grace have redesigned and refined the look several times over the years.

“We wanted to bring it all together with technology, to have everything included,” she said. “When you advertise in print, you also get the website and app to offer our advertisers the best of everything while giving the reader the most comprehensive information on dining in our area.”

Every one of the 148 glossy, four-color, full-size pages dazzles with its contemporary magazine-style treatment. The inside pages showcase about 120  menus from local dining establishments, including descriptive happy-hour offerings and early-bird dining, restaurant locator maps, recipes, restaurant profiles, new restaurants and dining news, nightlife and entertainment, feature stories, and specialty categories such as outdoor dining, children’s menus, take out and dog-friendly establishments. There’s also a complete directory listing of all the area’s more than 200 eateries. 

Anuska’s attention to detail ensures that each restaurant is updated for each issue. It is important to her to have a personal rapport with all her clients  “We have really good relationships. They trust us because they see what we have done.” 

Both Frey sons are now grown. Fabio is a film director in Los Angeles and Marco is a jazz musician in New York. Anuska continues pursuing her business interests and passions, which seem to blend together seamlessly and ultimately benefit everyone around her.

The Lowcountry is fortunate the Freys’ honeymoon was such a success back in 1987. Their family fairy tale is reflected in the glossy pages of their magazines and traces a trajectory of island success stories covering nearly 30 years of vacationing, living and dining in the Bluffton and Hilton Head area.