|Editor in chief||Ruth Reichl (1999–2009)|
|Former editors||Gail Zweigenthal (1991–1998)|
Jane Montant (1980–1991)
Earle R. MacAusland (1941–1980)
|Publisher||Earle R. MacAusland (1941–1980)|
Condé Nast (1983–2009)
|First issue||January 1941|
|Final issue||November 2009|
|Based in||New York City|
Gourmet magazine was a monthly publication of Condé Nast and the first U.S. magazine devoted to food and wine. Founded by Earle R. MacAusland (1890–1980), Gourmet, first published in January 1941, also covered "good living" on a wider scale.
On October 5, 2009 Condé Nast announced that Gourmet would cease monthly publication by the end of 2009, due to a decline in advertising sales and shifting food interests among the readership. Editor Ruth Reichl, in the middle of a tour promoting the Gourmet Today cookbook, confirmed that the magazine's November 2009 issue, distributed in mid-October, was the magazine's last.
The Gourmet brand continues to be used by Condé Nast for book and television programming and recipes appearing on Epicurious.com. Since the end of its regular run, Condé Nast has also used the Gourmet brand in a series of special edition magazines, covering niches ranging from grilling and Italian food, to quick recipes, holiday foods, and comfort foods.
Gourmet was founded by Earle MacAusland who went on to serve as publisher and editor in chief for nearly forty years. Its first issue was January 1941, and its main competitor at the time was American Cookery, formerly the Boston Cooking School Magazine, also known as the “Boston Cooking-school Magazine Of Culinary Science And Domestic Economics”, which had been published since 1896. The Boston Cooking Magazine was founded by S.S. Pierce, a man who MacAusland took a lot of inspiration and lessons from to start his own magazine. Much of the content was similar – articles on food, recipes by the magazine, recipes submitted by readers, recipes requested by readers and advice sought by readers. But American Cookery was in black-and-white, printed on newsprint, with smaller pages and content focused on America. Gourmet was upscale, slick, in color, with a focus on Europe and New York City, and most of its recipes carrying French names. Gourmet began publication just before America entered World War II, which brought war rationing. Its upscale audience was urged to save the issues and to use the recipes after the war when rationing ended. Since Gourmet made its debut in 1941, America was coming off of the Great Depression and in the middle of World War II. MacAusland had a vision to try to keep the spirits of people positive and wanted to remind people that good quality and striving for the best in life and in food should still be the goal. He has said ““Good food and good living have always been a great American tradition.” He was a master at capturing prosperity in his publications and demonstrating culinary excellence. Earle made many visits to Europe with his friend Samuel Chamberlain to gain perspective on how luxury eating and dining was done overseas. They gained a deep knowledge of the French wine culture and delicacies of meat and cheese.
Condé Nast bought the magazine in 1983.
On October 5, 2009 Condé Nast Publications CEO Chuck Townsend announced that the magazine would cease monthly publication; the company "will remain committed to the brand, retaining Gourmet’s book publishing and television programming, and Gourmet recipes on Epicurious. We will concentrate our publishing activities in the epicurean category on Bon Appétit."
A year after the close out of the magazine in September 2010, Conde Nast revived it as an app, but stopped updating it two years later.
In 2009, the financial crisis hit the United States when the housing market crashed and many large banks failed. This was the start of a long recession in the country and many people lost their savings and assets. As a result, the luxury market for extravagant cooking took a turn for the worst as people now had to be cost sensitive and stop consuming for quality and status but rather for a bargain. Chuck Townsend summarized the demise in the best way, “[I]n this economic climate it is important to narrow our focus to titles with the greatest prospects for long-term growth. Gourmet was the more luxury-oriented than sibling Bon Appetit, which made it an ill fit for today’s budget-crunched times.”
Editors in chief:
- Pearl V. Mezelthin (1941–1943)
- Earle R. MacAusland (1943–1980)
- Jane Montant (1980–1991)
- Gail Zweigenthal (1991–1998)
- Ruth Reichl (1999–2009)
In the aftermath of the announcement that Gourmet was folding, its cookbook, Gourmet Today, released a few weeks before the news, saw a significant spike in sales. The cookbook includes over 1,000 recipes for everything from vegetable dishes to cocktails.
Gourmet Today tried to adapt to changing consumer tastes to meet the demand of their magazine subscribers. Demographics were changing and more people wanted vegetarian options and the ability to make meals more quickly and efficiently. The start of Gourmet Today really is due to the fact that the majority of people changed from wanting the most fancy and time-consuming meals to wanting the easiest recipes that are simple and sustainable. The Gourmet Today cookbook changed from the original Gourmet Magazine because the new generation of readers were into casual and trendy dining instead of traditional methods, ingredients, and presentation. All of the recipes were done by Ruth Reichl, who became the fifth editor of Gourmet Magazine from 1999-2009. Reichl was a longtime food-writer for many journal publications and turned into an experienced author.
Expansion into television
In October 2009, Gourmet launched Gourmet's Adventures With Ruth on PBS as a follow up to Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie which was also on the public television channel. The show features editor Ruth Reichl visiting cooking schools around the world with well-known chefs.
The basis for Gourmet starting a television series was that they found consumers and readers to have an interest in cooking vacations and international food travel. Ruth Reichl goes across the world with celebrities like actors and well-known chefs. Some of her guests include Frances McDormand, Lorraine Bracco, Dianne Wiest, and Dean Fearing. She travels everywhere from London to China and explores all of the cultural differences the world has to offer in cooking.
- "America's First Food Magazine Turns 60". Business Wire. FindArticles. August 28, 2001. Retrieved October 5, 2009.
Gourmet founder Earle R. MacAusland acted as editor and publisher from the first issue in 1941 until his death in 1980.
- "Ruth Reichl: A New Book And The End Of 'Gourmet'". Fresh Air. NPR. October 14, 2009. Retrieved October 16, 2009.
- "Gourmet Magazine". Cook's Info. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
- Stephanie Clifford (October 5, 2009). "Condé Nast to Close Gourmet, Cookie and Modern Bride". The New York Times. Retrieved August 3, 2015.
- Jessica Dickler (October 5, 2009). "Gourmet magazine dies after 70 years". CNNMoney. Retrieved May 4, 2010.
- "Gourmet Magazine, 1941–2009: A recipe for obsolescence". The Boston Globe. October 7, 2009. Retrieved October 7, 2009.
- Nolan, Hamilton (5 October 2009). "The Wrath of McKinsey: Conde Nast To Fold Gourmet, Three Others". The Gawker.com. Archived from the original on 7 October 2009. Retrieved 6 October 2009.
- VanHemert, Kyle (September 23, 2010). "Gourmet Live: The Delicious New Gourmet Magazine For the iPad". Gizmodo. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
- "Jane Montant, 85; Led Gourmet Magazine in Period of Growth". Los Angeles Times. January 17, 2002. Retrieved 2009-10-05.
- "A New Editor for Gourmet". The New York Times. March 7, 1991. Retrieved October 5, 2009.
- Alex Kuczynski (January 26, 1999). "Times Critic Will Become Editor of Gourmet". The New York Times. Retrieved October 5, 2009.
- Andriani, Lynn (October 26, 2009). "With mag's last issue on newsstands, sales of new book are up". PublishersWeekly.com.
- Moses, Lucia (August 17, 2009). "Gourmet Preps TV Show". MediaWeek.com.