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October 5, 2009

Gourmet magazine to fold



I just got off the plane from Chicago  (with a quick detour to Whole Foods to buy staples and a late vegetarian sushi and black cherry soda lunch -- not as dreadful a combination as it sounds).

When I got home and to my computer, the first thing I saw was an e-mail from Hal Laurent telling me that Gourmet magazine is going to cease publication. ...

Somewhere I have the first Gourmet magazine I ever bought, with fresh corn in a blue pot on the cover and my recipe for corn pudding inside. Somewhere are the holiday issues I saved over the years, never making all the elaborate dishes and cookies and Christmas puddings, but always planning to.

On my cookbook shelves are all the early Gourmet cookbooks, and there were a lot of them, the ones that taught me how to entertain. I even still have the "You Asked for It" recipes for dishes from Baltimore restaurants like Danny's in their heyday. I can't believe Gourmet won't be around, even though I stopped subscribing years ago.

And that, of course, was the problem.

(Later: Thanks also to Robert of Cross Keys and turkeybone who let me know on my other e-mail, which I checked just now.)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 3:43 PM | | Comments (39)


My family has subscribed to this magazine since the early 60s. I didn't necessarily like the direction it took under Ruth Reichel, but as recent as July I made one of their menus and everyone loved it. Their online service has allowed me to get rid of hundreds of recipes, I hope it continues.
A loss for the food world>

I still have a subscription. Sigh--I hope they don't substitute Slow Cooker Monthly or Spam Surprises for what's left on my subscription.

Oh man! Can't we get rid of Oprah's magazine instead ...and KEEP GOURMET???

Well, I STILL subscribe, even though I wasn't thrilled with some of the directions the magazine has taken of late. I can't believe it's going to fold; I have subscribed continuously for nearly 40 years. It's a part of my life; I have continued to read it, and the online recipe thing (which I actually use fairly frequently) just isn't the same thing. I keep telling people I have never met a computer I wanted to read in bed: books, yes; magazines, yes; but online stuff? Never

I posted the news about Gourmet in a comment on Alizee at 12:30, figuring I'd share the news with everyone, not just EL.

I stopped subscribing after they added more stories I didn't want to read at the expense of the recipes. The recipes they had were still delicious.

While I agree with the first post about Ruth Reichel, I have to disagree with YP, the intelligently written articles in Gourmet are in stark contrast to the insipid fare in Food and Wine and Bon Appetit. I will miss this the best of the food related magazines. Perhaps if they had partnered with a pop culture TV show they could have survived.

Trip Klaus, my point was that the new Gourmet cut back on the recipes in order to add more articles. I don't want to read more articles, intelligently written or not, at the expense of recipes, whether they are in Gourmet, F&W or Bon Appetit. Just my opinion and why I stopped subscribing to all of them.

Yum, the phenomenon and object lesson you just described applies to far more "special interest" magazines and venues beside the food related.

Having to weed through 20 paragraphs to cull the 30 words of actual information won't be tolerated for long.

I felt it had become more of a travel magazine than a food magazine. I do like to travel but that is not why I buy gourmet

I can't believe an institution like Gourmet is going down! Another example of the dumbing down of America. Long live the printed word and kudos to Ruth for a fine job.

mdlrvrmuncher, better print out those favorite recipes because I would bet that the online recipes will disappear when the magazine folds. It costs money to maintain a website.

I started subscribing in the middle 70's (much to the amusement of the post office staff at Yale Divinity School, which was used to more erudite journals). I will miss the magazine, and though I get Bon Appetite, the sister publication, I preferred Gourmet.

My biggest concern is what will happen to the Epicurious website, That's one of my go-to sites for recipe ideas.

dumbing down of america?? I really want to hear more about this.

I can't believe they are keeping Bon Appetite, not Gourmet. Although I have never subscribed to either, I always pounced on used copies of Gourmet at the library.

I'm with you, Lissa, on preferring Gourmet to Bon Appetit. Now I wonder what will happen to Food & Wine.

I actually prefer Bon appetit. I find the recipes much more appealing and much more home chef easy.

I always did like to read Ruth Reichel's commentary, though and find her to be a very intelligent well spoken writer as well as knowledgeable foodie.

Although I'm not a subscriber, I did always read Gourmet in doctor's offices and in the coffee shop and several times did write down some of the recipes.

I guess I'm part of the reason for Gourmet folding. I had a subscription, but I just didn't value it enough, even though it was only $12 a year, to renew.

At one time I probably had subscriptions to a dozen or more publications. Now, I'm down to the Economist and Cooks Illustrated On-Line. I even let my Cooks Illustrated paper copy subscription lapse.

I've been reading, & subscribing to Gourmet for at least the last 30 years & Bon Appetit since it began. While I used to think Gourmet was fun to read but impossible to cook from & Bon Appetit more user-friendly, under Ruth Reichl the the situation was reversed. I am heartbroken to lose such a wonderful resource. I'd rather have lost Bon Appettit. Shame on Conde Nast!

I subscribed to both Bon Appetite and Gourmet for years. When I was younger, I made more recipes from BA, but as I got older I noticed I wasn't using BA as much. I just like the recipes better in Gourmet. And I really do enjoy the travel articles in Gourmet. One of the things I love about traveling is getting to try foods from other areas. So those are interesting articles to me.

Anyway, I was sad to hear this news yesterday, but not nearly as sad as my husband will be when he learns I will no longer be getting rid my old issues.

Sigh. Lets face it, we like food porn and we have lost another source.

I loved the recipes - they worked and were delicious and many were straight forward and simple. A loss to the magazine industry and to people who love good food and great writing.

I am so sad about this news, I had to go home and reference one of my past issues on the appropriate wine to serve on such an occasion. I also subscribe to F&W, but like the other posts find it a little too, I dunno...secular. Gourmet spoke to my inner foodie and challenged me on what I should be eating, drinking, preparing, not what the masses are interested in this week. F&W is trendy, Gourmet held timeless information. I was obsessed with the cover art and photos. (Yes, Sarah…food porn it is!)
I don’t know if I will keep my subscription to F&W, my heart just isn’t in it.

No matter how user friendly the recipes, Gourmet is an INSPIRATION! The articles, the photos, the point of view is what made me want to get in my kitchen at the end of a long day and cook, or to travel to a new place because I was intrigued by the culture shown so beautifully through food, or to better understand the politics behind the food choices I make. I don't want a trendy throw-away magazine, or one that I can simply clip recipes from, I want something that inspires! And no food magazine in the publishing world does that better than Gourmet.

I would be curious as to the decision to drop Gourmet and keep BA.

I wonder if BA is cheaper to produce, or if it has a higher circulation. My guess is that BA has both lower circulation and lower costs.

I, too, stopped buying Gourmet due Ms. Reich's editorial changes. While I hate the thought that the magazine won't be around any more, for me, it died 10 years ago.

RoCK, the NYTimes reported that BA has higher circulation (1,350,000, versus Gourmet's 980,000).

Recent efforts were made by Gourmet to branch into TV, as with Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie and the upcoming Gourmet's Adventures with Ruth, both PBS shows. The TV efforts apparently came too late to save the magazine.

I guess Ruth Reichl dressing up as Gene Simmons really didn't help.

Gourmet took a huge turn for the better under Ruth Reichl. She got rid of the fusty country club vibe and brought in a much fresher, innovative and intelligent style. It's really sad that food journalism and photography of this caliber can't make it. Hopefully, the website can continue.

I've subscribed to Gourmet more-or-less continuously since the 60's, and I too, disliked many of the changes introduced under Ms. Reichl's leadership. I DO like her writing style, esp. in her books (although they're terribly self-involved).

One change that particularly irritated me (and which I believe lasted only a few issues) was the center-justified Table of Contents.

I also found the magazine getting much too ad-heavy (yes, I know, ads pay the rent), to the point where I'd go through each copy and tear out the folded double-page ads, and all the bind-in cards, before I tried to read it.

Gourmet had an excellent archival service, and more than once, found recipes for me that were published years ago. I had urged the editorial management to start compiling all the published recipes into a database that could be published on a CD. I wonder if anyone ever started that project.

In brief, I don't think it was RR who sank Gourmet. It just got too grand and wonderful to support. I'd rather have seen them close out Bon Appetit, though.

The one thing that I find kind of strange of what I consider the user "unfriendliness" of Gourmet is that Sarah Moulton is the Head Chef.

I've always loved all of her cooking shows and found her recipes very sound and user friendly. She herself seems very down to earth and approachable. So, it's just kind of sad to me to see her lose her job.

Maybe we have the makings of a new reality show here ...

Maybe we have the makings of a new reality show here ...

What's next -- Ruth Reichl versus Sara Moulton on MTV's Celebrity Deathmatch?

hmpstd, I just learned that Cat Cora is Executive Chef for Bon Appetite. Sara Moulton vs Cat Cora Celebrity Death Match!

I have subscribed to Gourmet since 1964 a year before I was married. Gourmet has enriched our life because I cooked from the recipes, traveled to locations they wrote about, and had wonderful meals at the restaurants that were highlighted - Paris being one of our favorites. We chose trips just because the place was featured in Gourmet. Once Ruth Reichl became editor the magazine did not offer much for me to be excited about. Gourmet was no longer special, never saved an issue once Ruth took over.

I was logging on to oomplain about the predictable monthly blue barn rustic and red pomegranite middle eastern photo spreads when I learned of Gourmet's demise. I now regret my complaint. I love the articles and will miss the magazine more than I ever thought. What a mistake.

My Gourmet magazines date back to the
1940s (though my subscription started
in 1958 and ran until the late 1990s).
Now what do I do with more than
45 years of Gourmet in one bookcase
arranged by month?

Can you post the corn pudding recipe? I had that issue, made and loved that recipe, then lost that issue in a move.

Sorry, Randal. I don't have it. All I have is EL's creamed corn recipe. Does that help? LV

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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