Gourmet magazine folds
Conde Nast today announced that it will close 70-year-old Gourmet magazine along with a number of its other publishing ventures.
Since its launch in 1941, Gourmet weathered repeated upheavals of the American food scene. At its inception, people ate local and seasonal because they had to. When processed food supplanted the farm stand, Gourmet marched on.
And when food morphed from meal to movement and Americans ate local and seasonal as a political statement, Gourmet was there.
During editor Ruth Reichl’s time at Gourmet, she saw the rise of the locavore movement — people eating locally produced foods — and molecular gastronomy, the art of preparing foods with chemistry and physics instead of traditional cooking techniques. She highlighted both trends in her first issue a decade ago.
But in recent years, how Americans got their food media also changed. Despite Gourmet’s robust Web presence, keeping a bricks-and-mortar publication afloat proved too taxing.
“The transition from hard paper to the Internet is not as easy as it should be,” said celebrity chef Bobby Flay. “We just take it as a sign of the way things are going to be now.”
Gourmet’s demise also illustrates the change in how power is held in the food world. The ability of print media to make — or break — anything is waning. Increasingly, it is the viral aspect of social networking and blogging that gives rise to new faces, places and flavors.
And in perhaps a nod to that, Reichl’s first public comment after the announcement was made via Twitter.
“Thank you all SO much for this outpouring of support. It means a lot,” she wrote. “Sorry not to be posting now, but I’m packing. We’re all stunned, sad.”