DCPR spent a glorious evening basking in the glow of Ruth Reichl, the last Editor of Gourmet Magazine, before it was folded by Conde Nast Publishing. (Ms. Reichl has also served as food critic for The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and has written several food based novels, all of which DCPR has devoured! She also dined NEXT TO US at the opening of the 4star Bastide, at which time we joined the ranks of her worshippers and admirers!) She was joined onstage by Pulitzer Prize winner (and local demi-god to every food blogger within earshot of his LA Weekly column) Jonathan Gold, his wife, journalist Laurie Ochoa, and LA food evangelist/restaurateur, Evan Kleiman. I could have listened to them all night, humorously recalling the seventy years of Gourmet magazine. Of course, even before we were allowed into the auditorium, the grim reality of the demise of Gourmet was obvious: The majority of those in attendance constituted a (to be polite) “very mature audience.” Much like a restaurant that refused to change over the years to attract a younger audience, Gourmet appears to have suffered a similar fate. Although panelists stated that circulation had never been higher, blaming instead the loss of advertising dollars, the age of this audience was startling! Curiously, the fact that food bloggers hold Mr. Gold in such high esteem, it was even more obvious that so few of them arrived to hear him speak of “the glory days of the past.” In fact, I have attended many such panel discussions, and rarely are they filled with young food bloggers, unless they are specifically targeted at the “future of food writing,” which every food blogger prays will somehow return as a viable profession. From the tone of last night’s discussion, however, that is unlikely. Ms Reichl recounted the tale of one of her young editors that left Gourmet to work at the Food Network Magazine. In taunting his former co-workers, he stated “This is why we are the future and you are toast. There are only six of us at this magazine, and there are more than sixty at Gourmet.” Incredibly, Ms Reichl was quick to agree. Those days, sad as it may be, are gone. Forever. As is Gourmet magazine. And, although one guest after another would ask – almost in a state of celebrity worship – if she would ever consider returning to Gourmet if the opportunity arose, Ms. Reichl eventually conceeded that the future of food writing will only be found in “other mediums.”
Although all four guests on the stage last night are among the most revered by the food community, including myself, last night’s Gourmet event was a reminisence of an era in journalism that no longer exists, or struggles to survive. What is the future? Ask any food blogger. There are now dozens and dozens of them in Los Angeles alone. And they are multiplying. Even the DCPR website includes a list of blogs which is embarrasingly outdated. And that is from a company that loves to read blogs, and does so daily. We meet new bloggers at every event, and we often invite them to our own. Many are anonymous, which leads us to suspect that they are created by either public relations firms or restaurant industry professionals. (We completely ignore anonymous bloggers with no contact information. The same goes for anonymous Yelpers, chowhounders, and blog commentors!) And yet, with the newfound ability for anyone to critique, review, and chornicle their daily meals (as well as a pictorial representation of every thought, inspiration, and ingredient that went into them), we jokingly conclude that there are now TWO reasons NOT TO COOK: 1) There are professionals trained to do it for you. And 2) It’s easier to go to a restaurant and read about someone else’s cooking adventures on a blog. And honestly, their’s probably tastes much better than ours ever would have, had we actually attempted to prepare a meal.
Of course, blogger restaurant reveiws are a completely different matter… And on that note, (to be polite) we simply suggest that you find a couple of blogs that are well written, that include lots of pictures to make you salivate when you have missed dinner, and that display a CONTACT ME tab, in which they both communicate with readers and happily accept criticism and praise. Then, just relax and let them do all the work. ….much like a great chef, in fact!
So, in a sad farewell to Gourmet magazine, we say “Bon Appetit!” (Sorry, we couldn’t resist.)
Watch the full Gourment video HERE, courtesy of Zocalo Public Square.