As a long time loyal subscriber to Gourmet, I shed quite a few tears when I received the last issue this month with a typically gorgeous cover photo of a what could have been the subject of a Norman Rockwell painting of a Thanksgiving dinner. Ironically, my subscription offered a one year renewal which obviously was printed before the decision to shut down. So what happened? Who is responsible? Who killed Gourmet?
The Recession-clearly the recession is at least partially responsible. In making its cold calculated economic decision to kill Gourmet, Conde Naste simply saw the trend of diminishing ad pages and decided to stop the bleeding. Who cares if yet another American food icon disappears?
Ruth Reichel- the last editor of Gourmet following her brilliant career as critic first at the LA Times and the NY Times not to mention her brutally honest autobiographies. Though I'm a big fan of Ruth's, I have to confess that I didn't like the direction she took Gourmet prior to its death. My favority columns were the restaurant reviews, originally always either New York or California (alternating between LA and SF). As a former critic Ruth felt that Gourmet should be more egalitarian and not be limited to the expense account crowds of the coastal cities. So first she nationalized the restaurant reviews to include Miami, Washington D.C., Boston and then expanding to Idaho and Wyoming. Ultimately, she eliminated the restaurant reviews altogether and turned the focus more to cooking and recipes.
Chowhound- yes, we have to take some responsibility for the death of Gourmet. In the internet age, not to mention Twitter, those who enjoy reading about food almost as much as eating crave instant gratification. They want more photos, more timely (even real time) reviews of the newest, coolest and hottest restaurants, food trends and recipes and more and more information period. Obviously this isn't entirely a bad thing as food writing tries to keep pace with the gastronomic revolution sweeping the country and the world as information technology itself contributes to the fusion and evolution of cuisines. We'll miss you Gourmet but, at the same time, we will carry on with your mission to continue to write the history of food traditions while reporting the newest food developments and innovations.