Gourmet’s Gone

Gourmet’s Gone

With the closure of Gourmet magazine, an icon in the food industry is lost. Is print publication too quickly becoming a thing of the past?

Staring down at the October issue of Gourmet magazine, my heart is heavy with the knowledge that this is the second to last issue to be printed. The mega-publishing company Conde Nast announced this week that it will close Gourmet with the November issue, and sent its 180 employees, including famed editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl, packing.

This is a move sure to sadden many food readers. First published in December 1940, Gourmet stood apart in food journalism. Reading its pages, full of award-winning writing and photography, was like slipping into a carefully planned foodie’s dream. Each issue told endearing stories of culture, taking readers to a farm in Italy, a beach in the Caribbean. Gourmet‘s stories spoke of food history, told of the restaurants, chefs, and people who formed and changed the industry. The recipes that came out of the illustrious test kitchen were smart, creative, and inspiring. You never had to question if a recipe from Gourmet would work, it just did.

I first read Ruth Reichl’s memoir, Tender at the Bone, in high school, and I fell in love with Reichl’s charming, sophisticated food writing. She made me want to write about food. With each successive novel, I learned more about the woman and became more enthralled with food writing and working with Reichl. When she took over as Gourmet‘s editor in 1999, she brought the charisma of her writing into the magazine. Reichl enhanced the face of the magazine, making it truly the front runner in food journalism. Each issue was a gift; there was always a story to fall into, a menu to dream about, a recipe I had to get into the kitchen and try. With the creation of gourmet.com in 2008, suddenly there was a definite online place for food information, with articles I could spend days reading. Gourmet could be trusted, unlike so many other publications and websites. It wore creditability like a crown.

The magazine was the forerunner of long form food journalism. Each issue contained intense, well researched, and thought out articles on the future of food, politics of the food industry, and seasonal recipes and ideas. Like a beacon of standards in the food writing sector, Gourmet‘s pages never fell to the glitter of celebrity chefs, trends, or quickly written, poorly researched prose. It’s closure leaves a hole in food journalism that no other magazine has yet to fill. Conde Nast will focus their food coverage in their additional food magazine, Bon Appetit. Recipe and trend based, the magazine is full of pictures and light, casual articles. While Bon Appetit is necessity in the food world, it is not the behemoth of Gourmet.

In such troubling times, newspapers and magazines in every sector are facing the chopping block. Ad revenues, the stone upon which publications stand, have fallen by the wayside in the gloom of the recession. With periodicals being sold, turning to publishing exclusively online, and facing the chopping block completely, what is the future for publication and journalism? Online publication is instantaneous, can be quickly edited, changed, and updated. News can be reported around the clock; the front page of a newspaper can change its headlines hourly if need be. Still, holding an issue of Gourmet, circling recipes, feeling the print, means something to readers, doesn’t it? Are we heading too quickly to a time when print will cease to be? With the closure of Gourmet, and newspapers and magazines around the country, it looks that way. And this reader, for her part, is very sad about it.


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