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Food Media 13

The decline of Food & Wine magazine, Dana Cowin's fault or my own?

d8200 | Feb 13, 201210:46 AM

Since this is my first post, I'll give a quick bio: I've been a foodie (I hate that word, but lack a better term) for almost a decade now. At the time I was in my college years and was hoping there was more to food than pizza, ramen, and the relatively recent memories of my mom's casseroles and endless variations of hamburger helper. I started venturing out into unexplored parts of town in search of a meal and soon found the ordering process at taco trucks and noodle houses to be intimidating, as well as the unwritten etiquette of the high-end dining world. Being from a small, Middle-American town I was never exposed to these things growing up. I needed help from a trusted source and happened to notice the latest issue of Food & Wine at the local mega-chain bookstore.

F&W soon became my go-to resource on the subject. I read every issue cover-to-cover and "dog-eared" several pages for further reference. Some of my first issues, which I still have, are on the verge of falling apart. Fast forward several years and I have progressed from "budding home cook" to a professional chef at a local neighborhood Italian joint.

The last couple of years I've found that I'm not as excited when I find the latest issue in my mailbox. That day is far from the glorious and momentous occasion that it once was. The March 2012 issue arrived yesterday and I did my normal routine of sitting down with my afternoon coffee to peruse the magazine. Hmm, another recipe for quinoa salad. More articles about hipster interior designers hawking $2800 reclaimed wood tables and $795 welded metal planters, more b.s. about why Napa Valley is the greatest food/wine scene on earth...yadda yadda. I contemplated tossing this issue directly into my paper recycling bin, but decided to hang onto it for a bit...maybe something that I missed will jump out at me if I give it some cooling off time and return to it later. Then again, probably not.

I'd be lying if I didn't feel personally let down. For family and financial reasons I decided not to attend culinary school, but publications like F&W helped me fill some of those knowledge gaps, which have greatly helped my professional career. But now, when my line cooks ask for reference materials, I find myself handing out Bon Appetit or Saveur instead.

Can any long-time F&W readers attest to this? Has the quality and content been decreasing as of late, or is it that I'm just becoming more jaded or discerning in my expectations? To be honest, the magazine has always had some content devoted to stemware, interior design fixtures, custom dishes, etc. but to me, the food content definitely trumped the I'm finding this isn't the case.


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