Gourmet Bites the Dust

Gourmet Bites the Dust

Wow. This was a surprise to me somehow — Gourmet Magazine is closing. My first job out of college was repackaging Gourmet Magazine content into the first few volumes of Best of Gourmet and Gourmet’s Best Desserts (we also did other titles for Conde Nast). I’ll never forget going through the bound volumes of Gourmet Magazines — my task was to xerox every dessert recipe that had ever appeared, cut it out, and tape it onto a sheet of paper. These were the old days, when we did things on paper, and when type came back from teh typesetter and was glued to mechanical boards with wax. That was my other primary task, running big black portfolios of mechanical boards from our office on East 21st Street up to the Conde Nast building, then over to the Gourmet offices so they could be signed off on.

The Gourmet Magazine offices were like another world. This was 1985-87 and there were grown women wearing kilts and knee socks and those weird scarfy things women wore tied around their necks as some sort of business tie substitute. It was like a prep school or sorority gone slightly elderly, and slightly odd.

But I learned a lot, not only about food and cooking, but about how a recipe should look on the page, how it should work, and the importance of testing to make sure it worked.

It just seems a shame. Gourmet has a long history, and if nothing else, it’s a record of the remarkable changes in American attitudes toward food and travel over the past 70 years. And they published some wonderful writers. I’ll never forget bursting into tears over Christmas break one year when I read that before she’d died, Laurie Colwin had finished a year’s worth of columns, and the magazine planned to run them all. I’m so sad I’ll never have the chance to pitch them now …

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