The announcement today that Gourmet magazine would cease publication with the November issue came as a shock to many, although there’d been speculation for months. No Gourmet? How can that be?
This is indeed a sad development, but a cautionary tale about keeping up with the times. I’m no publishing expert, but I think they lost their audience base ages ago. Even though I’ve been an unrepentant foodie for many years, I was never a subscriber. Gourmet just didn’t fit my somewhat unconventional lifestyle. When I would leaf through an issue, it always appeared to be aimed firmly at the conservative upper crust (and those who yearned too be such), especially with all the extensive travel articles about upscale destinations with accommodations and meals to match.
I was more into Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, and eventually Saveur, all of which seemed to have more “democratic” appeal. But Gourmet gets credit for elevating the conversation to begin with, i.e. that food is a subject that deserves to be taken seriously.
While I think Ruth Reichl (I’m a fan, and love her Diary of A Foodie show) made many needed changes at Gourmet, they didn’t dispel that inaccessible image. Features on fancy travel were replaced with splashy A-List entertaining at home, and meanwhile the rest of us were going online for recipes and ideas, and discovering taco trucks and dosa joints. We moved on.
I just checked the Gourmet website a moment ago, and the pop-up come-on immediately appeared: “Subscribe Now and get a FREE cookbook!” Now that’s just sad.