Young and Hungry

Journalists, Fans Respond to Condé Nast’s Decision to Kill Gourmet Magazine

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Rumors had been circulating for weeks about pending cutbacks at either Gourmet or Bon Appetit, but Condé Nast's decision today to ax editor Ruth Reichl's print baby sent shock waves through the food community (even if Gourmet's book publishing and TV operations will continue, as will the Web site).

In his business story for the Los Angeles Times, Russ Parsons contacted included a quote from Reichl for a comment about the closure.  "Like everyone else, I found out this morning," she told Parsons' colleague, S. Irene Virbila, the paper's restaurant critic. "I can't talk about it now, it's too raw. I've got to pack up my office."

On her Twitter feed, Reichl added: "Thank you all SO much for this outpouring of support. It means a lot. Sorry not to be posting now, but I'm packing. We're all stunned, sad."

Others are equally stunned about the sudden demise of the 68-year-old magazine. More comments after the jump.

Howard Kurtz on his chat today: "I hate to see any publication go out of business, and I know Gourmet has a big following. But Conde Nast is cutting back big time — only the New Yorker seems to be spared this round of budget cuts, reported as around 25 percent — and so it's just axed three of its magazines."

Ed Levine at Serious Eats was grief-stricken in a blog post today:  "The news hit anyone with a love for great writing and seriously delicious food hard. Really hard. For many of us Gourmet symbolized much of what we love about food journalism: terrific writing, careful editing, and beautiful photos. In recent years Gourmet editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl has also added food politics and harder food news reporting into the magazine's editorial mix, which was much appreciated by me, at least."

The New York Times' Media Decoder found Condé Nast's decision a little shocking: "Condé Nast tends to hold tight to its prestigious titles, making the Gourmet closing all the more startling. In an interview in February, even Paul Jowdy, publisher of the in-house rival Bon Appétit, said that such a closing was unlikely. (To be fair to Mr. Jowdy, the economy has plummeted, and Condé Nast has been hit particularly hard since then. Its magazines have lost more than 8,000 ad pages, excluding its bridal titles, so far this year.)"

Time Out Chicago turns sappy over the news:  "Bear with me while I get sappy: Gourmet has had a bigger impact on my life than any other magazine has or will. It was always in my house growing up, but I didn’t start reading it until I was 22. I was working in a newsroom in New York at the time, living in a dark studio apartment in the basement of a building in the not-yet-hipster Fort Greene, and Gourmet was the only luxury I could afford. Once an issue was released I would carry it in my bag until the next issue was out; by that time, it was tattered and torn and crinkled. (It wasn’t stained with food, though—I hardly had a kitchen to cook in.)"

Texas cookbook author and restaurant critic Robb Walsh reminisces about stories he contributed to Gourmet:  "For Gourmet's Latino food issue, I wrote about taco trucks all over the country and the immigrants who run them — hardly a story I expected to see in glossy Gourmet. Several years ago, the magazine ran my feature about an African-American cowboy cook named Mama Sugar and the Juneteenth celebration she holds at her trailer home and horse farm in Frisco. The story was turned down by other food magazines. It was the first Juneteenth story Gourmet ever ran. But in truth, it was the black-and-white photography by O. Rufus Lovett that made the story."

Image by cbertel via Flickr Creative Commons, Attribution License

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