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RIP Gourmet Magazine: 1941-2009


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I just saw a headline on my newswire saying that Conde Nast is going to be shutting down Gourmet, as well as a few other magazines. Anyone have any more info on this? It was just a headline with no story behind it.

"It's better to burn out than to fade away"-Neil Young

"I think I hear a dingo eating your baby"-Bart Simpson

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http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/05/conde-nast-to-close-gourmet-magazine/?hp

The NYTimes media blog indicates that following a cost audit by McKinsey, Conde Nast is going to stop publishing Gourmet. While I was never a subscriber, I've flipped through a few issues and liked what I saw. Is this a shocking blow to anybody here, or just new media killing old media?

Edited by cdh (log)

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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It's *old* media killing old media. Publishing is gasping for air, and this is simply a way to shore up the bottom line. Having two upscale food magazines in their portfolio (Bon Appetit as well as Gourmet) means one magazine may necessarily be cannibalizing the ad sales of the other. This will allow a clear focus on one title (and they do intend to maintain the Gourmet brand in publishing, TV, and on epicurious.com).

Christopher

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This news makes me sad. I liked the mix of content that Gourmet provided and felt that it was getting even better recently. Specifically the online content was getting really good and, after a hiatus of a couple of years, I was about to renew my hard-copy subscription. I wonder if Bon App will change much to incorporate a more Gourmet feel or if it's gone forever. Food and Wine might be the biggest beneficiary.

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Amidst a media in the throes of a transition from traditional print to online and tv, another giant is about to fall. According to Stephanie Cliffore at the New York Times, Gourmet will be closed--this site has the Conde Nast memo announcing it.

As a subscriber (my mom's given it to me each year for Christmas since I started cooking years ago), I'm a bit shocked. Then again, in an age of blogs and searchable recipe databases, I suppose it makes sense. Even though I keep all my old issues, I don't really look through them much any more--I go to Epicurious. Even still, the magazine still for some reason owns a decent amount of authority and credibility making this unexpected to me. I suppose it's just another indication of the rapidly changing state of media.

nunc est bibendum...

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I haven't had a subscription or bought an issue in years. To me, in recent years it seemed to be speaking to a very particular sort of reader -- an upperclass-ish Upper East Side lady-who-lunches, maybe -- and was less about food than about that person's... idealized culinary lifestyle, I guess. Put another way, it was perhaps a little too New York for its own good, and I'm not at all shocked.

Nor am I shocked that its sister Bon Appetit seems to have been spared -- that magazine, whatever its flaws, seems to have much greater potential right now.

Edited to add: Really, though, the one part of the operation that seems most likely to be around in some form in 5 years is Epicurious.

Edited by John Rosevear (log)

John Rosevear

"Brown food tastes better." - Chris Schlesinger

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I actually cheered when I read that Conde Nast is shuttering Gourmet. It is unfortunate, but not a surprise to me at all. Ruth Reichl let her ego drive the magazine into the ground. It's content scarcely differed from that of Bon Appetit or frankly any of the many other food magazines on the stands. If you've never read Gourmet from 20-25 years ago, go the the library or a garage sale and pick up a copy. It was filled with quality travel writing, recipes that could be made at home by normal human beings, a fantastic wine column and more--all presented with panache and class. It devolved into food-porn photography, preachy articles and recipes that were close cousins of any other cooking rag on the stands. Good riddance!

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I wonder what will happen to the name? It's hard to imagine a magazine with this much name-recognition and history vanishing completely. I haven't bought either Gourmet of Bon Appetit in over a year - was there a definable editorial viewpoint that differed between the two?

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I'm sad. Though I'm tired of the photos of pyts, I think that a lot of good things have happened under Reichl's watch, including a lot of good writing (David Foster Wallace's piece on lobsters stands out to me). I also am pretty surprised that the food writing warhorse is getting docked, or, perhaps, moved into cyberspace.

I'm also a subscriber, so I'm wondering what's going to happen with us. Are we all going to be switched to Bon Appetit?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I'm saddened by this news. While, I can't compare the content to Gourmet of 25 years ago, it was my favorite magazine over the others. I appreciated the education it gave us on topics that some people would rather ignore or don't know take place. There is no harm in having knowledge about these topics to help us make more-informed decisions. And it's not as if I read them all. Sometimes I didn't read the articles until I saw the letters to the Editor where a comment sparked my curiousity. Not every issue was a hit, but I don't expect that out of any magazine. I'll miss the wide range of recipes and the cover photos. It was always a happy day (sometimes to the end of a bad one) when I got home and Gourmet was waiting for me.

I like cows, too. I hold buns against them. -- Bucky Cat.

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I wonder how much they paid McKinsey to tell them it's not economically viable to publish two magazines about the same thing? From there, I assume the reality was that Bon App had a better balance sheet, but Gourmet is certainly the better magazine. On the whole I'd rather have kept Gourmet in the world, but I'm sure the numbers say to do otherwise. Perhaps the worst part of it is losing Ruth Reichl's main outlet. I hope we'll see more of her somewhere else to compensate.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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This is, indeed, very sad news!!! I agree with what was said the other eGulleters above: Gourmet is a far better magazine because of the balance of content. It provided great recipes, wonderful travel stories and I often used the information in Gourmet to plan my foreign trips. And with all due respect to consulting companies (my husband used to work for BCG and we have many friends at McKinsey), most often those studies don't reflect the true nature of things, and they never take into account people's sentiments.

The Gourmet's website MUST stay alive. It is a wonderful resource, very chic, useful and well organized. I really enjoyed visiting it, when I was not able to get my hands on the magazine. (I live in Moscow, Russia, so I get my foodie mag fix only when I fly to another country).

If someone will start a petition to keep Gourmet, I will be one of the first to sign it!

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I'm sad as well. I've really liked how Gourmet has ventured into food journalism in the last few years, and also placed even more emphasis on authentic ethnic cuisine. Bon Appetit, OTOH, seems to be dumbing itself down. I guess we know which approach wins.

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I was shocked to find this out just now - after I sent in a request to revive my lapsed subscription.

Yes, a lot of the recipes were a stretch for the ordinary home cook, but wasn't that part of the point of the magazine? And in the same publication you could find serious treatments of food issues (e.g., how chickens are raised and processed) and the completely unexpected, like the paean to American cheese currently up on Gourmet.com (and presumably in the front-of-the-book in the November issue).

What I liked about the current incarnation of the mag was its wide range and its adventurousness: haute cuisine and street food each had their place, which I couldn't imagine in the old Gourmet -- or even the current Food & Wine.

I hope some of that makes its way into Bon Appetit (which mag, btw, got its start as a modest publication in Kansas City). And if it doesn't, I hope it survives online -- either as Gourmet.com or on Epicurious.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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I've always been more a Bon Appetit subscriber than a Gourmet subscriber, but in any event this is still a loss to the culinary community, in the same way the failure of a daily newspaper hits the journalism community.

I really find it difficult to find the time to read any of my magazines cover to cover anymore, but when they quit publishing and it's no longer in my mailbox every month, there's certainly a momentary feeling of loss, especially when they don't refund the balance of the subscription.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“A favorite dish in Kansas is creamed corn on a stick.”

-Jeff Harms, actor, comedian.

>Enjoying every bite, because I don't know any better...

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I find it interesting that everyone seems to be making the point that it's stupid to publish two magazines "about the same thing." Does this mean that you've never purchased a copy of each magazine in the same month? I think the magazines have different audiences, or at the very least, they cover different topics. I think it's a bit simplistic to say that publishing two magazines about food is overkill. Is Toyota being stupid by selling a Highlander and a 4Runner, or Gatorade by selling both berry and orange flavors?

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I actually cheered when I read that Conde Nast is shuttering Gourmet. It is unfortunate, but not a surprise to me at all. Ruth Reichl let her ego drive the magazine into the ground. It's content scarcely differed from that of Bon Appetit or frankly any of the many other food magazines on the stands. If you've never read Gourmet from 20-25 years ago, go the the library or a garage sale and pick up a copy. It was filled with quality travel writing, recipes that could be made at home by normal human beings, a fantastic wine column and more--all presented with panache and class. It devolved into food-porn photography, preachy articles and recipes that were close cousins of any other cooking rag on the stands. Good riddance!

I used to read it just for the Laurie Colwin articles. That was a serious blow to the magazine( and the food writing world) when she passed away. I still make some of her recipes!!

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LA Times is reporting that Reichl was "stunned":

Russ Parsons quotes the magazine's editor (and former L.A. Times Food editor and restaurant critic) Ruth Reichl as saying she found out the news only this morning.

"I can't talk about it now, it's too raw. I've got to pack up my office," she said.

Nothing yet over at Bon Appetit, where they must be listening to old Joy Division records and feeling a strange combination of elation and dread.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I am saddened by the news. I only had my subscription this one year, but use to purchase it on the news stand full price when the issue looked interesting. I think this is a loss for the culinary world. :sad:

"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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If they are going to shut down Gourmet, they'd better remove this from their website. Note, the link will probably only work for as long as it takes someone to figure out it is still up!

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I preferred Gourmet to Bon Appetit. I never met a Bon Appetit recipe I didn't have to fix. I just discovered that the Gourmet Institute has been canceled as well for this year. It was supposed to be in a couple of weeks.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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I find it interesting that everyone seems to be making the point that it's stupid to publish two magazines "about the same thing." ... Is Toyota being stupid by selling a Highlander and a 4Runner, or Gatorade by selling both berry and orange flavors?

The magazine business doesn't work that way, at least not any more. Well, it never did, really, there just used to be a lot more publishers. But really it comes down to subscriptions and ad sales, especially ad sales. Can they sell enough ads to support both magazines? Probably not.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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i first read the news this morning in the Food Section blog and must say that I was quite shocked. I, like many others, think that Gourmet was starting to find it's niche and voice. I consistently liked its articles more than those in BA. Additionally, I liked how they started to try to do things diferently from the food norm - with the photography, the content. As far as the recipes - with some commenting that they were too complicated: I subscribe to five - well, I guess, now, four- magazines- Saveur, Bon Appetit, Food&Wine and Cooking Light and really, make very few of the recipes featured in the magazines. They serve more as reporting of trends, inspiration and teaching of different techniques than anything else. It was nice to have a magazine not give the same old easy dish recipe. It is sad that Gourmet has been shut down, particularly in a market where there are so many magazines which are aimed at the more "ordinary" American with simple recipes, endless explanations of beginner skill sets, etc.

Of course, on the bright side, i can use future subsciption money toward finally getting Gastronomica....

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