Ruth Reichl keeps cooking, despite loss of Gourmet magazine
Like 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.