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At 68, Gourmet Is 86'ed

Sad news for food lovers today: Conde Nast announced that after 68 years, it will close Gourmet. The decision, chief executive Chuck Townsend said in a memo, is part of an effort to "narrow our focus to titles with the greatest prospects for long-term growth." (Read the full memo here.)

The news came as a surprise to many (including me). For months, there had been speculation that the luxury publisher would shutter either Gourmet or Bon Appetit, which was redesigned in 2008. But most bets were on the latter. Ruth Reichl, Gourmet's editor in chief, is a powerful brand in the food world. Gourmet's mix of recipes plus food politics and offbeat travel stories was unique in food publishing.

Townsend said the magazine will cease monthly publication but that Conde Nast remains "committed to the brand." It will continue to back Gourmet's book publishing and television production arms. Gourmet's recipes will remain on Epicurious.com. No word on the fate of Gourmet's excellent Web site, Gourmet.com.

What do you think? Did Conde Nast make the right choice? Will you miss Gourmet?

-- Jane Black

Update: Mediaite has posted a memo from Memo from Drew Schutte, senior vice president and chief revenue officer at Conde Nast Digital, that indicates that Gourmet.com will continue to publish at least until the end of the year.

By Jane Black  |  October 5, 2009; 11:25 AM ET
 | Tags: Bon Appetit, Gourmet, Jane Black, food media  
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Comments

Devastated. At a time when the general public is finally becoming more aware about the implications of their food choices, we lose the most intelligent food publication there is. (Aside from the Post, of course.)

Posted by: ColleenFoodieTots | October 5, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Conde Nast got it wrong! If they had to close anything it should have been Bon Appetit. This is devastating news to all those who look forward to the receiving the beautiful issues in.

Posted by: maisha1908@hotmail.com | October 5, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

So what are they going to do with the thousands of subscribers who have paid them good money for the mag? Will they at least replace it with Bon Appetit? And of course, I just re-upped Gourment a couple of months ago....

Posted by: cookgirl1 | October 5, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Definitely the wrong choice! I love getting my monthly Gourmet magazines, but more importantly, when searching Epicurious, I always bypass the Bon Appetit recipes and choose Gourmet. The Gourmet recipes always come out perfectly every time! A very sad day.

Posted by: ginniemae | October 5, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

I am so sad to hear that Gourmet is folding. I have always looked to the magazine for new ideas and old favorites. It is THE arbitor of all things food.

Posted by: AmyReeder1 | October 5, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

I for one am happy that Bon Appetit survived. I never have issues with their recipes (which also come out perfectly every time) and find the content to be much more relatable. At the end of the day, their audiences are different, and the survivor is the one to which the greater number of readers and potential readers can connect.

Posted by: Sweetpea2 | October 5, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Another magazine bites the dust! I didn't subscribe to Gourmet, I subscribe to Cook's Illustrated instead, but I always enjoyed their mix of articles when I ever I read it.

Posted by: LittleRed1 | October 5, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Although, I'm subscribed to both, I've always enjoyed Bon Appetit more. They seem to have more approachable recipes that don't need alot of obscure ingredients.

Posted by: whirlwind81 | October 5, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I think they made the correct choice. I used to subscribe to both Gourmet and Bon Appetit. But, I cancelled my Gourmet subscription about 4 years ago when I realized that its content no longer interested me. It did not have enough information on actual food. Although I would love to travel the world in pursuit of fabulous meals, that is not part of my daily life. I still subscribe to Bon Appetit because there are more recipes and information on the food itself. I am pretty sure that Bon Appetit appeals to more readers.

Posted by: SweetieJ | October 5, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I agree with other comments I've seen: Gourmet had become a magazine for foodies rather than cooks. And every time I've seen a recipe in it that might interest me, it depended on an ingredient I couldn't get.

The travel stories must have been very expensive to produce and who's traveling much these days?

BTW, we've found the Gourmet TV series to be unwatchable with its constant 2 second jumpy shots. How do people watch it without having seizures?

LaCroix and Gourmet were for other times.

Posted by: fran426 | October 5, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

So sad! It's been around my entire life.

Posted by: shadowshopper1981 | October 5, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Conde Nast = Newhouse = miserly management.

I'm not surprised at all.

They wheedled gigantic concessions from the workers at their flagship newspapers and all but shut down journalism in the New Jersey state capital. How can you have a newspaper in the capital NOT have a state capital bureau covering the state government???

Old Sy Newhouse is worth something like $8 billion and this empire is crumbling faster than he can make his next billion.

Oh, well.

Posted by: bs2004 | October 5, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

This is terrible news -- Gourmet magazine is a class-act and I would have bet it could survive almost any other magazine in its category (especially Bon Appetit!) Not everyone is interested in 10 fast and easy cassaroles for family night! Leave that to BHG. Ruth Reichl deserves better than Conde Nasty.

Posted by: educationconsulting | October 5, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

This is truly a sad event. I agree with many of the comments here that Conde Nast got it wrong. Gourmet didn't pander to those who wanted their 30 minute meals and was dedicated to food and knowing where our food comes from. Bon Appetit just doesn't rise to that level of understanding of what food and cooking is about. I will greatly miss Gourmet though will not turn to Bon Appetit for my information. If I wanted fast food I'd stop on any corner in America.

Posted by: tucsonpaolo | October 5, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Losing Gourmet is like losing Smith + Hawkins...another sign that our culture is coarsening and dumbing down. It has happened to all civilizations...just our time now. The great American Dark Ages are beginning. Happily, all dark ages have their moments of illumination, and some day, excellence in thought and deed will return, as it always does.

Posted by: wpost4112 | October 5, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Although we subscribe to both, we find Bon Appetit carries many more recipes we actually cook than does Gourmet. And don't worry about Ruth Reichl--she will land on her feet.

Posted by: lowercaselarry | October 5, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Wow. I just renewed my own subscription. I assume they will offer me my money back, since I don't want to subscribe to Bon Appetit (or I would have).


Dam. Just Dam.

Posted by: MajorConfusion | October 5, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Nast got it right. Bon Appetit is so much better than Gourmet!

Posted by: AP5214 | October 5, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Though the news of this closure saddens me I am not surprised. Gourmet magazine had a lot of great content through the years but shifted to an unrealistic approach to food with its hard-to-find ingredients and increasingly focused on travel over food. This past month's issue features an article about spending $1,000 on dinner, I highly doubt even 1% of their readership could or would do this in our current economy. I enjoyed their articles on food ethics which are absent in any other mainstream food magazine. As a photographer I prefer Gourmet's design and use of art over Bon Appetit but the content has not kept up with the times and that was their demise. Turning a blind eye to reality is not the best choice, not even for a stalwart like Gourmet.

Posted by: naheedence | October 5, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

I am sorry to hear of the passing of Gourmet magazine. I enjoyed the magazine though I no longer subscribed.
I am not surprised by the closure.
In the last three years four periodicals that I subscribed to have closed.
Conde Nast was the publisher of at least one of these.
For years there has been talk of the demise of "paper publishing" but while the ecomony continued to roll along...however unsteadily...publishing continued and several new and quite innovative titles appeared. Sadly these have been the first to bite the dust.
Cottage Living, for those who live in real homes.
Domino, for Carrie Bradshaw wanna be's.
Budget Living, for people who are "frugal" on a competitive level.
Blender, for people who could read and follow the music scene.
Blueprint, a nesting magazine for Martha Stewert fans who didn't really need all the craft and cooking stuff.
So Gourmet now joins this list...a magazine the combined food, with travel and a certain amount of what is going on where.
With the cost of publishing now considered prohibitive for all but the most "sure thing" periodicals perhaps it is time to transition to the web for all these.
There was a time when periodicals...where considered a revolutionary form of commuication (historically they were tied to quite a few political revolutions).
This may be time for a new generation and a new means of communication to assume the role that my much beloved magazines have held.
I am sorry to think that a future generation will not have the pleasure of siting on rainy days reading a tired and totally outdated magazine and thinking "Wow, what were they thinking" or "Jeesh, they got it right....so how come no one did anything since?"
Or just laughing at the pictures of old movie stars, heavily airbrushed, selling cigarettes and makeup.
Ashe to ashes, dust to dust.

Posted by: wdc31 | October 5, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I was about to subscribe. Oh well.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | October 5, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

What Losers! I am going to have my wife cancel her subscription to Allure and I will cancel my subscriptions to Golf Digest and Golf World in protest!

Posted by: w04equals666 | October 5, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

This is shocking and sad news. I cook from Gourmet magazine all the time--it's not some fancy inaccessible magazine at all. And I actually tear up almost every time I read one of Ruth Reichl's "letter from the editor". She made the magazine fun and interesting, and the whole enterprise, website, cookbooks, and all fostered a growing community of whoever wanted to try something new. And learn! I just happened to have returned from a bookstore where I saw the new cookbook, and after looking at it briefly, i thought, oh no, I'm going to have to get this book (I am not supposed to buy anymore cookbooks...!). It looks too good. What a true shame to put an end to such a great group of projects.

Posted by: CBNewman | October 5, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

And, Ruth Reichl made an appearance today at the Costco in Pentagon City to sign the new Gourmet cookbook. Sorry now that I didn't go.

Posted by: MajorConfusion | October 5, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Yes! We have been subscribing to Gourmet for years, but in the past two years I have not found a recipe I wanted to make. So, I have been taking Bon Appetit out of the library and cooking from that magazine.

Posted by: blondjustice | October 5, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

My grandmother signed me up for Gourmet years ago, and while I giggle at the adds for Rolex and cruises, I also feel like it taught me how to cook. I know and use a lot of basics my friends think are way out of their league, and I'm not an impressive cook by any means.

Things like making my own vegetable stock, pie crust, gefilte fish, salad dressings and barbecue sauce, using the grill to get results I can actually serve, and great seasonal menu ideas.

As a mostly- vegetarian it has also served me well, and I'll really miss its trips around the world. They introduced me to canned chiles in adobo sauce, available in the ethnic foods aisle at the Columbia Heights Giant, and now I use it all the time in everything from salad dressing to their own (modified) recipe for crackers.

Posted by: adavidson | October 5, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Words cannot express how sad this is. Gourmet stood for more than just recipes. Trying to find a way we can rally the cause here (there must be something we can do). I started http://twitter.com/savegourmet. Please follow and let's find a solution.

Posted by: savegourmet | October 5, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

68 years does not qualify Gourmet as a prospect for long-term growth?!
This is a very disappointing decision on the part of Conde Nast.
I am a subscriber who just signed up for three more years of this magazine.

Posted by: khladm | October 5, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe that Gourmet is going away, and as a bitter consolation, we're left with Bon Appetite. While it is a fine publication in its own right, BA does not contribute to our culinary culture (or couture) to the degree that Gourmet does.

While Conde Nast is continuing the brand, that's little consolation to those of us (of which there are MANY) that looked to Gourmet for inspiration as well as information, and no other outlet will provide a suitable stand-in. Not the Gourmet website, not Gourmet books, and certainly not Bon Appetite.

Heartbroken,

Stephanie
http://www.wasabimon.com

Posted by: sstiavetti | October 5, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

I too am devastated - no other magazine provides what Gourmet does. Have been a subscriber for close to 40! years and cook from it all the time. Bon Appetit is for people who are not interested in real food. And, no, I am not a foodie; just interested in different menus/dishes. And the aricles on travel - how now will I be able to go dream on a snowy day with no money?

BAD DECISION.

Posted by: NancyH3 | October 5, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

A bad, bad decision.

Posted by: kbockl | October 5, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, it's sad, but get over it. There are tons of great food blogs out there with great writing, good advice and fabulous recipes. That's where people are going for cooking help these days, not some glossy magazine that was often more travel log than cooking guide. Yes, I enjoyed it, and yes I have the Gourmet cookbook, but when I'm looking for a recipe, I check the Post archives and some of my favorite blogs like 101cookbooks or simplerecipes or epicurious. Welcome to the new century, people.

Posted by: lechat17 | October 5, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

"Losing Gourmet is like losing Smith + Hawkins...another sign that our culture is coarsening and dumbing down. It has happened to all civilizations...just our time now."

I really hope that was a joke post...Otherwise, this person needs a serious reality check.

Posted by: mediajunky | October 5, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Eh, I always had a hard time finding the magazine amongst all the ads in both those magazines. I used to get Cook's Illustrated before I realized that while wonderful, cooking out it all the time was going to kill me (mmmmm, add more cheese and heavy cream). I now get Eating Well (fantastic) and Vegetarian Times (never a bad recipe). Both have great recipes and good articles and don't spend too much time hawking stuff. Also, the majority of their stuff won't take me hours and hours to make. I have cookbooks for that.

Posted by: em15 | October 5, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I can't say I'm surprised. I decided not to renew my subscription to Gourmet this spring. The last few years have been devoted to style over substance. Huge, lush photos where the food is an "also-ran" to the models, locations, dinnerware, etc. finally pushed me over the top in a recent issue where I could barely read the caption.

For truly good recipes and writing on culinary issues, there are better sources; Cook's Illustrated, Bon Appetit, and BBC's Good Food are all outstanding. To catalog America's cuisine and dinning trends; check out Saveur.

Posted by: lballen69 | October 5, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I'll occasionally pick up Bon Appetit for a recipe I really want, but in general, my magazine was either Gourmet or Saveur. Saveur gave me a better variety, but Gourmet gave me depth and wit in its articles.

I'll miss Gourmet. I probably won't buy Bon Appetit again. And my Christmas present to myself will be Saveur.

Posted by: Fabrisse | October 5, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Golly, what will I do with my stockpile of hummingbird wings and pickled zebra. I dropped Gourmet long ago. Their recipes were okay; but many of the recipes had odd, expensive components.

Posted by: TertiumQuid | October 5, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

You guys could just eat at McDonald's with the rest of us. C'mon! I've snagged a table in the Play Place!

Posted by: jimward21 | October 5, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Are we not certain that this was engineered by Rahm Emmanuel --- or his nanny like brother --- to aid in the fight against obesity?

While sugary drinks are the current target, when will the target set be enlarged to include those staples of Gourmet recipe faire, i.e., butter, sour cream, creme fraiche, chocolate in all its forms, and other substances we should be eliminating in the world wide war on fat?

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | October 5, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

It seems to me that they have misjudged their market here. The demographic of Gourmet is one that could have been asked to pay more for the magazine in the face a decline in ad revenues. In England they have more than a few magazines that actually depend on their readers instead of advertising for operating revenues. I think there was a few too many MBAs involved in this company and too few business people.

Posted by: ThomasFiore | October 5, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I've gone ahead and written my own post, and linked back to here:

http://www.wasabimon.com/archive/gourmet-ill-miss-you/

Posted by: sstiavetti | October 5, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

A huge error. Gourmet was always a quality publication with enormous appeal and amazing staying power. Its recipes were user-friendly and produced great results, with few exceptions. It will create a significant void for this suscriber of some 30-plus years.

Posted by: ears37 | October 5, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Good planning on Conde Nast's would make an investment in electronic publications by subscription.

Those who stick by paper, well people are buried with paper and I do as much as I can thorugh electronic subscriptions.

Posted by: Computer_Forensics_Expert_Computer_Expert_Witness | October 5, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Jane,
Thanks for giving readers a chance to vent. It is a sad day not only for Gourmet and subscribers but also for freelance journalists who have one less publication to pitch.

I wrote a farewell post to Ruth Reithl on my blog, Will Write for Food. www.diannej.com/blog

Posted by: 339000 | October 5, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

This is very sad news. I loved Gourmet -- that magazine got me into cooking. Their recipes were always creative but always easy to follow, even the most complex ones. And I loved the mix of recipe/travel/food lore. It's a sad, sad day indeed.

And to those who've posted that they prefer "blogs" or computer versions of magazines, I say poo on you. I don't want everything in life to revolve around a frickin' computer. There remains a place for glossy magazines and real books in this world and I feel sorry for those of you who want to restrict your world to the confines of your computer screen.

Posted by: 7900rmc | October 5, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

I have been getting Gourmet magazine for years and have kept every issue! How very sad.

Posted by: momsright | October 5, 2009 6:06 PM | Report abuse

What a bunch boneheads at Conde Nast. Gourmet is WAY better than Bon Apetit, even though I like both.

Gourmet is a beautiful magazine with spectacular stories and pictures, especially during the holidays. Ruth Reichl is a wonderful woman who did a magnificent job with the magazine, which is (now WAS) one of the best things to show up in my mailbox.

Idiots. I wish Conde Nast all the worst in the world. BOO! And, BOO again!

Posted by: wings100 | October 5, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

It is time for both Bon Apetit and Gourmet to bid au revoir. They were great in their time but now there are better and more practical resources for recipes, techniques and where to dine. I got great ideas from both magazines and it was in Bon Apetit I learned about the White Barn Inn and other great inns and restaurants. However, the stream has moved on. I used to subscribe to one or the other, alternating over the years. However, I found Gourmet was just too too much and I wasn't going to chase all over town for a bottle of this or expensive smidgen of that for one dish. It became more difficult to separate the ads from the content. And so on and on. Now I turn to food blogs, cooking blogs, old cook books and friends. I love Irma Garten's program on Food Network and her Back to Basics cookbook for the ease and simplicity. I noticed last weekend while checking out at the grocery store that Bon Apetit was on display but there was no Gourmet. I wondered at the time if that indicated something. I guess it did.

Posted by: sue1047 | October 5, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

I read Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, Saveur and many more food magazines every month, but the one that I make sure I don't miss buying is Gourmet Magazine. I've been reading Gourmet for the last 20 years. Gourmet got better every year thanks to Ruth Reichl. For all the readers who want to share their thoughts on this great magazine, join "Save Gourmet" on Facebook.

Posted by: isabelle2 | October 5, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry to hear Gourmet is going away, but I haven't gotten it in years. A lot of the recipes were just too involved or called for ingredients that weren't practical for us. It was fun to READ, but I almost always would read a recipe and decide to order it at a restaurant, but it was just too much trouble or pricey to make at home. I cook plenty and enjoy it but am not that interested in spending all day at the stove. Sorry about the demise for those of you who do have that kind of time and interest, though.

Posted by: aallen1 | October 5, 2009 9:52 PM | Report abuse

I have subscribed to Gourmet for over 10 years, but wouldn't have renewed for the past few years but for the fact that my husband payed the bill and extended it to 2010 (bad idea...).

I look back at the old issues, pre-Ruth Reichl: they are beautiful. In the last few years, the food photography is always in these depressing grey or brown undertones. It was so ugly and unappealing, even the holiday issues were dark and moody. Yuk. I will not miss this magazine...

And I live in America: so much of the food is just off the charts in terms of oddness to the average American palate. I want the majority of the recipes to be food I can cook, I want some travel articles, but Gourmet just got too "niche" for me....

Posted by: cdcay | October 5, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

No other food writing could transport me like Gourmet. It was in a class by itself.

Bon Appetit attempts to transport me as well - into a suburban housewife who's equally concerned about pear drop earrings as pears poached in wine - not quite the same.

Posted by: skipotpie | October 5, 2009 10:33 PM | Report abuse

I have subscribed to Gourmet for 30+ years. I can't say that I have been happy with the magazine all the time, especially after Ruth Reichl took it over from Gail Zweigenthal, but on the whole, it has been the standard bearer for food publications in this country for a long long time. Conde Nast has done it again. Killed a magazine it should not have, in this case, instead of a very inferior publication, Bon Appetit. It is really a crime, but probably unavoidable in the long run. Of course bean counters were the ones to decide, as always. And as always, they blew it. Too bad quality does not count, only numbers... or future numbers. So, Jay Jacobs and I will raise a glass to what once was the best magazine in America. RIP, you will be missed, and badly.

Posted by: gb810 | October 5, 2009 10:40 PM | Report abuse

The magazines were fun at first but like all magazines it gets to be the same thing. Also, advertising has increased so much that sometimes I feel like more than half the magazine is full of commercials. Its not just Gourmet or Conde Nast but other food, women's, house and garden, sporting, etc. Same stories and articles. I don't buy many any more.

Posted by: 45upnorth | October 5, 2009 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Were Blogs and Online Magazines (like Gourmet's own Epicurious.com) responsible? Read more insight by prominent food writer Colette Rossant at http://www.superchefblog.com and in today's article on The Food Network's new Fansite. Nail in the coffin?

Posted by: forbie1 | October 6, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

What a short-sighted decision Conde Nast has made. This economy will not last forever, and advertising at Gourmet would have revived. Why not cut Anna Wintor's car, latte and lunch budget? Why not tighten the belt everywhere and get rid of some other lesser titles if necessary? But Gourmet? Unbelievable! And not even a Christmas issue this year .... .

We need an organized uprising, something to convince CN to reconsider. Twitter isn't enough.

Posted by: catbrown1 | October 7, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I truly think that the Powers That Be at Conde Nast do not understand what a culinary and literary treasure they had the honor to safeguard.

Witness the (smug and insulting: I wrote as a academician who has dedicated my life to the study of culinary history; he responded as if I were behind bars in a loony bin) letter I just received from the CEO:

"Dear Becky: I have received many letter protesting our decision to end Gourmet, none quite so vitriolic as yours. I’ll not try to make sense of it for you…from your vantage point there clearly is no sense, but suffice it to say, had there been ANY alternative, I would have opted for it. As much as you criticize BA, it was not, is not an alternative to Gourmet. Its following could be characterized as a tribe several million strong. They disagree with your condemnation of their bible. Chuck Townsend"

Posted by: Beckyleach | October 7, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Heartbroken. This magazine has been part of my entire adult life, and none can compare:

http://smalltownbigdesign.wordpress.com/on-the-stove/

Posted by: lsuter | October 9, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

While still devastated by the loss,
after all, Gourmet was the one subscription I did not cancel to save money (and the environment),
I am now trying to think ahead:

I am hoping to save Gourmet's online archive for future reference, all magazine articles, all recipes, most of the beautiful photo essays
- all in one handy bookmark at Gourmet.com.

Please help save Gourmet Magazine's amazing website:
http://new.ipetitions.com/petition/gourmet/

Posted by: Julesinsf | November 6, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

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