Nothing ‘Gourmet’ Can Stay

Originally Posted: 14 Oct 2009 01:08 AM PDT

Every so often something larger than life comes to an unexpected end. It doesn’t matter whether it is an 11 foot wall protecting a political idealism, vinyl records, or a culinary stalwart such as Gourmet magazine. In each instance, the culprit is progress.

In the case of Gourmet, it was bound to happen, perhaps not so suddenly, but eventually, as it will happen to most printed media. Don’t believe me? Ask employees at the Tucson Citizen, the Rocky Mountain News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, or any of another 30-40 dailies that have closed or are in bankruptcy proceedings. Many have opted for online versions only simply because it is cheaper to produce. They are moving online because that’s where their readership has moved.

I had a subscription to Gourmet, I loved it, but was it any better than some of the food blogs you can find on the internet? I don’t think any blog out there was better than Gourmet, but certainly equaled Gourmet for content and
that passion for all things culinary.

As a trained culinary professional who has made cooking my living for 24 years, I think 99% of the food blogs out there are garbage, but one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure. I would never in a million years need a recipe for broccoli casserole as Christopher Kimball points out in his Times Op-Ed piece, but as a chef serving thousands of meals a year, I know there is a large percentage of regular folks who would love that first Google listing and who more than likely had never even seen a Gourmet magazine.

It should be noted that while Gourmet magazine had a strong competitor in the internet blogs, Cook’s Illustrated was fighting for those same readers. For Mr. Kimball to lay the blame on bloggers for the demise of Gourmet, he may want us to think his Cook’s Illustrated isn’t marketed to the same readership. By the way Mr. Kimball, there isn’t “a single best way to make a dish”, anybody who has made their bones in a kitchen knows that.

Mr. Kimball was smart enough to create his own web presence, his own ‘blog’, if you will. He has roughly 300,000 paying subscribers, many of whom probably also subscribe to the print version. I’m sure that put a dent somewhere in Gourmet’s armor.

If there is any real fault to be had, it’s that Gourmet didn’t stay ahead of the internet and the select few who could produce electronically daily what Gourmet did monthly. So while we may lament the passing of Gourmet, the rule still applies that the strongest survive. Those who choose not to move forward will be left behind. Those who choose to ignore progress are destined to be trampled by it. There are a 100 different cliches you could scratch in epitaph.
As Robert Frost wrote, “nothing gold can stay”. It is the nature of all things, a beginning and an ending. What is most important is how you fill up that which is in-between, that was something that Gourmet Magazine did admirably.

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