The word on the street is that Gourmet Magazine, helmed since 1999 by the truly remarkable Ruth Reichl, may be on its way out. Since 2004, their ad pages have dropped from 1,364 to 955; Conde Nast may be feeling overextended in the food mag department, given their simultaneous investements in Bon Appetit and Epicurious.com.
The choice of Bon Appetit over Gourmet may be the best fiscal choice, but is not, in my opinion, the right one. Under Reichl's direction, Gourmet has become slightly too aspirational (some of the serving pieces featured cost a week's salary), but it's also highlighted little-known travel destinations (Strasbourg, the Auvergne, Laos, western China), and championed delicious foods made with quality ingredients.
Reichl brought in superlative food photographer Romulo Yanes, whose pictures routinely rise above traditional "food porn," as well as the coolest roadies ever, Jane & Michael Stern. She also nabbed David Foster Wallace, who penned a hotly discussed essay entitled Consider The Lobster for the August 2004 issue.
Reichl not only writes the only editor's letter worth reading every single month; she has also transformed Gourmet from a housewife's staid bible to a sophisticated cook's fantasy fodder.
If Ruth Reichl is anything, she's a survivor. If Gourmet does close up shop, she'll take on a new challenge, and it will be a thrill to see what she does next.
But I'll still be a little bit sad.