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Ruth Reichl keeps cooking, despite loss of Gourmet magazine

October 28, 2009

Reichl_smLike a lot of us in print media, Ruth Reichl recently lost her job. Only her job was better than most: editor of Gourmet magazine. Don’t worry, though, she’s still coming to Miami Book Fair International to talk about her latest book, Gourmet Today: More than 1000 All-New Recipes for the Contemporary Kitchen.

“We put everything we know about food in this book, and I’m so glad we did,” Reichl tells the Kansas City Star. “It is a legacy of an extraordinary institution.”

Reichl had been editor of Gourmet — America’s oldest and most distinguished food magazine — for a decade when Conde Nast suddenly announced its closing on Oct. 5. She tweeted fans and friends at 10:58 a.m. that day, probably not long after she’d received the phone call from Si Newhouse, head of Conde Nast.

“Thank you all SO much for this outpouring of support It means a lot,” reads Reichl’s Twitter post. “Sorry not to be posting now, but I’m packing. We’re all stunned, sad.”

Conde Nast is facing the same challenging advertising climate that threatens the rest of America’s print media. Its stable of publications including The New Yorker, Vogue, Vanity Fair, and — not coincidentally — Bon Apetit.

The decision to close Gourmet not only stunned Reichl, but foodies all over North America. Some readers “reacted as if they had lost a loved one” reports the Toronto Globe & Mail. “Gourmet is like a bible,” the Toronto-based chef Susur Lee said. “I’m a little depressed.”

Conde Nast closed Gourmet — the November issue is its last –despite an affluent readership, which Reichl says, at 950,ooo, was its highest ever. Bon Apetit, however, has a circulation of 1.3 million readers, and, according to the Los Angeles Times, is much cheaper to produce.

Believe it or not, things could be worse. Conde Nast announced “we will remain committed to the brand, retaining Gourmet‘s book publishing and television programming, and Gourmet recipes on Epicurious.com.” And sales of the new book spiked after announcement of the magazine’s demise, reports Publishers Weekly.

Of course Ruth Reichl remains a brand name herself, one of the top food writers alive. Before joining Gourmet, she was a highly respected restaurant critic for New West and California magazines, the Los Angeles Times, and finally, The New York Times. She started as a chef in Berkey, Calif., in the early 197os, and she’s the author of numerous cookbooks and books about food. She’s received four James Beard Awards

Reichl is also the acclaimed author of four memoirs, including Not Becoming My Mother, published earlier this year. She continues to work on “Gourmet’s Adventures with Ruth,” a PBS show in which she visits cooking schools in such exotic places as Laos, Morocco and rural east Tennessee.

So here comes Reichl, the consummate professional, promoting Gourmet Today at Miami Book Fair International–she earns no royalties from the book, but edited it as part of her job at Gourmet magazine.

After the book tour, Reichl says she plans to write a new book, this one about her years at Conde Nast

“This has been a fascinating place to work,” she tells the Times. “But I’ve always said I can’t write it until I leave here.”

An Evening with Ruth Reichl, Mon., Nov. 9, 7:30 p.m., at the downtown Wolfson Campus of Miami Dade College, 300 NE Second Ave, Miami. Tickets: $10.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. rachel permalink
    October 28, 2009 2:15 pm

    Yes, I believe that rural east Tennessee is an exotic place.

    It is terrible that journalists are losing their jobs. Lucky for her she is brand in and of herself.

    This is just another example that proves that any young person majoring in journalism is completely stupid or lives under a rock.

  2. Chauncey Mabe permalink*
    October 28, 2009 3:32 pm

    I have a writer friend, a former journalist (lucky, that), who spoke at a university journalism class. She asked how many of the students read newspapers. Of thirty or so, two or three raised their hands. She asked in disbelief, “Where do you think you’re going to work when you get out of here?!”

  3. Candice Simmons permalink
    October 30, 2009 12:59 pm

    Such very very sad news.

    But Rachel, the journalists will prevail in the end. I hope.

    It’s funny how every news show I watch on TV reference the newspapers they read.

    Must have newspapers and magazine. And good ones.

  4. October 31, 2009 11:26 am

    I am very worried for journalists. Really am. It is like the Tv shows. If they have people on and do not have to pay them, (realtyTv ect.) The same may happen with blogging. That is a poor way to replace good journalists.We can rebel you know. Yes we can. Take a journalist to lunch.

  5. October 31, 2009 11:27 am

    Guess who will be cooking at the fair. She is a great cook you know.

  6. March 17, 2010 5:16 pm

    Ruth,I’m sorry to have heard what happen.And i just wanted you to know
    that i had so much respect for what you have done for the viewer like myself and many others.You travel the world that no other chef on tv
    has ever done.Especially a trip to Laos where you learned how to make
    those national from their country.I can’t remeber what it was.i would
    not know how to make Lao food if it weren’t for you travel out to those country and show us the cooking you did Laos.I think they did a
    tremedous mistake by letting you go.All those cooking show with those
    chef i’ve seen on every sat morning On PBS tends to get sucker and sucker.But yours are far way two thumbs up Ruth.These bunch of chicken
    heads and not exciting enough to watch.Same old dishes everytime and not more adventure outside the world.What can i do to help?and where the heck wrong with these exective producers letting you go?ARe they nuts?They’re losing a tv without you Ruth.I’m with you all the way!!!!

  7. March 17, 2010 5:22 pm

    Ruth,Don’t give up the fight.You maybe fallen but you will rise to the end.

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