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Deathwatch

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Gourmet magazine has balled its last melon

The magazine of good living dies (Photo by )

The magazine of good living dies (Photo by SuperFantastic)

Gourmet is no more.

The food world is mourning the loss of the magazine, which has been a cornerstone of North American culinary journalism for nearly 70 years. Publisher Condé Nast announced yesterday that the final issue will hit newsstands in November. Turns out that while Gourmet was talking about foccacia, it was no longer bringing in the bread. Fans of Gourmet may find solace in the fact that Condé Nast’s other food rag—and Gourmet’s biggest competitor—Bon Appétit, is off the chopping block for now, and that the company also plans to keep Gourmet‘s book and TV projects going, as well as preserve its recipes on their sprawling food Web site, epicurious.com.

Here’s the word about Gourmet from news outlets across North America:

• New York rounds up comments from various NYC chefs, including this gem from David Chang of Momofuku Ko: “Losing Gourmet is fucking sad. It’s fucking horrible.” [New York]

• Toronto chef Susur Lee tells the Globe he was “depressed” at the news: “Gourmet is like a bible…When I heard, I called my wife to tell her the news. Something like that, you want to share with your family.” [Globe and Mail]

• Condé Nast CEO Chuck Townsend tells Bloomberg: “There’s a great deal of sentimentality associated with Gourmet … It is the epitome of Condé Nast photography and journalism, but it’s a poor business.” He ain’t kidding: Gourmet’s ad sales slid to $28.3 million in the first six months of the year from $49.5 million a year earlier, according to data from the Publishers Information Bureau. That 43 per cent drop compares with a 21 per cent decline for the U.S. magazine industry during the same period. [Bloomberg]

• None of the roughly 180 employees of the magazine, including Gourmet’s legendary editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl are expected to stay with the company. [New York Times]

• The New York Times calls the move “startling,” especially in light of comments made by Paul Jowdy, publisher of Bon Appétit: “They would never do that,” he said in February about shutting down Gourmet. “They’re both very important magazines in the culinary world, and they’re very different magazines, and they’re both very healthy. So there’s all these rumours that are just ridiculous. I try not to pay attention to them, but you have to know—if you think of two of the most prestigious, credible, trusted magazines in the industry, you’re going to say Bon Appétit and Gourmet.” [New York Times]

• Reichl, who was once a food critic for the L.A. Times, told her former employer: “Like everyone else, I found out this morning,” she said. “I can’t talk about it now, it’s too raw. I’ve got to pack up my office.” She later tweeted: “Thank you all SO much for this outpouring of support. It means a lot. Sorry not to be posting now, but I’m packing. We’re all stunned, sad.” [L.A. Times]

• Time magazine reports that the recession provoked an identity crisis at the magazine. Gourmet‘s latest cover, for example, touted a story on where to eat a restaurant steak for $14.50. “When you’re catering to an affluent audience and you’re talking about huddling at home or cooking inexpensive stews, there’s a disconnect,” says Merri Lee Kingsly, publisher of Saveur, a rival title. [Time]

 

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