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On Our Radar: The Gourmet Edition

Editor in chief Ruth Reichl was "stunned" by the news about Gourmet. (Richard Drew -- Associated Press)

The online world was alternately "shocked" and "saddened" by the news that Gourmet magazine was, as several writers put it, toast.

It seemed that every writer (even ones who had never had the "honor" of writing for the august food magazine) had something to say about the 68-year-old publication. In one hour, there were 4,200 tweets on Gourmet's demise.

The debate, if there was one, seemed to center on whether Gourmet deserved its violent end. (Editor in chief Ruth Reichl was said to be "stunned" by the news.)

On the whole, the answer seemed to be no.

The Atlantic's Corby Kummer said that before Ruth Reichl, Gourmet was a "magazine whose gloss had worn thin; the overtly elitist, you're-not-quite-good-enough-for-our-kind tone had become mostly tiresome, although each issue had a frozen-in-time quality that was perversely appealing." Still, he wanted it back. Under Reichl, the magazine included a broad array of newsy issues such as US regionalism and food production.

Jay Rayner, the Guardian newspaper's food critic and frequent contributor to Gourmet, also mourned its loss: "It may not always have sold the most – though it regularly shifted over a million copies – but it always was the glossiest, the shiniest, the most indulgent," he said. "Gourmet was a magazine people collected. It was a habit."

TimeOut New York's Gabriella Gershenson wondered what, without Gourmet, young foodies today will aspire to: "Cheaply won celebrity chefdom? Dumbed-down cable programming? Blogs that feed off of restaurant gossip rather than a love of food and the people behind it?”

Even Gawker, which is stingy with almost any kind of praise, lauded the magazine for publishing greats such as M.F.K. Fisher and David Foster Wallace.

My favorite piece of the day was a reprinted article written by food historian and frequent Gourmet contributor Laura Shapiro in 2004. In her piece on Slate, she traced the magazine's development from an elite magazine to one that pounced "on good food anywhere they could find it."

What do you think? Are you sad to see Gourmet go?

-- Jane Black

By Jane Black  |  October 6, 2009; 8:30 AM ET
 | Tags: Gourmet, Jane Black, food media  
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I am very sad to see it go. I ignored it for years, unable to relate to the uber chic, gilt-edged tablescapes and resorts for the elite that filled each issue. But when Ruth Reichl took over, she changed the magazine's point-of-view away from the lifestyles of the wealthy and focused on a much more down to earth approach to the pleasures of the table and an intelligent view of our relationship with food and its place in the world. I looked forward to reading what Ruth had to say every month. And I loved the Nigel Slater-influenced, rustic food photography. As far as Bon Appetit goes, I am convinced that their bigger subscription numbers are artificially pumped up. Even though I have never subscribed, it is sent to me, probably because I am a frequent shopper at Sur la Table. I rarely even look at it--the writing is simplistic and the recipes are too often dumbed down. Now I'll just content myself with Saveur.

Posted by: Zoramargolis | October 6, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse


You misread the Corby Kummer posting in Atlantic. The quote you used referred to his opinion of Gourmet before Ruth Reichl arrived; that she transformed the magazine with the use of fresh writers who often came from outside of the food world.

Posted by: dmasher1 | October 6, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

I've lost a very dear, very old friend.

At least I have 35 years worth of issues to keep the memories alive.

Posted by: jhershelredpuppy1 | October 6, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

It is but a cruel twist of fate that Gourmet's demise comes merely two months after I committed to the monthly indulgence of a subscription.

Posted by: laurenbeau | October 6, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

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