The Loss of Gourmet Magazine

In case you hadn’t heard the news yet, the New York Times is reporting that Gourmet Magazine will cease publication after their November issue.

If you’ve followed the publishing industry at all over the past year or so, this news is a little surprising but not shocking. Condé Nast was losing advertisers left and right, and a comparison of the size an issue from three years to one today clearly demonstrates that their magazines are/were losing money.

But my curiosity is piqued. Why Gourmet and not Bon Appetit? Both are Condé Nast publications after all, and both are/were having money difficulties.

Part of my questioning here is based purely in my own bias. While I’ve enjoyed Gourmet for years, I’ve never been much of a Bon Appetit fan. I’ve always felt that while Gourmet’s perspective on food made it somewhat approachable by most, Bon Appetit has a shallow, upper-class feel to it that never made me much of a fan.

So what does the food world lose with the closing of Gourmet? I hesitate to use the word ‘institution’ here, but that’s what it does feel like to some extent. but really, what it comes down to is this: If Saveur makes me want to explore the exotic, and Gastronomica makes me approach food with an intellectual perspective, Gourmet made me comfortable. It wasn’t always engaging (although it could be) and it wasn’t always exciting (but again, it could be). What it was was dependable. Challenging without being overly so, an issue of Gourmet could cover several topics without seeming either patronizing or trend-setting. At times, it was what I wished the food world could be.

Perhaps that’s why it is being closed. While other food media are focusing on either the latest and greatest restaurants, or perfection in recipes, Gourmet, if you’ll pardon the food metaphor, had less sizzle than other options in the marketplace. In a world where shouting chefs and food competitions are prevalent, a magazine dedicated for dependable recipes and articles on the simplicity of our affection for food now seems sadly out of place.

In a years time, it’s likely I won’t give the loss of this magazine a second thought. But right now? Right now I feel a little sad. I feel as if the food media lost an important institution today. At its core, food is about comfort. Without Gourmet around, the food media seems a little less comforting today.