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I'm Not Going To Renew Gourmet or Food & Wine

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I decided last week when my latest Gourmet arrived. I realized I was just sick and tired of pawing through page after page of ads for $5000 dresses, $6000 watches, $50,000 cars and spa hotels in Bali. The restaurants and hotels they recommend are all pricy.

I am also disgusted by the kitchen makeover articles. They're all the same - hugely expensive giant kitchens with professional ranges and walk-in fridges (kidding) and slate floors and granite counters, and blah blah blah. There's no imagination in any of them...never a feature showing somebody's regular kitchen make-over or examples of folks with tiny kitchens and how they've made them work.

I know that these magazines only exist for the ads, but they all start to blend into one after a while. I'm also really tired of Ruth R's Editor's column - so precious and so meaningless.

Saveur is also getting more and more like the others. I'm keeping my sub, but am disappointed more and more with that one, too.

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  1. I can't tell you how many times I've cancelled my subscriptions to both of them. Then - I'll find myself a few times buying it at a newstand while waiting for a train, desparate for something to read because I've read every other cooking magazine already. I realized that the price I pay for it yearly was so far less than I paid for it those few times over the counter. So, I went back to subscribing.

    Savauer is the only one I refuse to purchase again - while gorgeous to look at - I have never once made a single thing it its pages. It's too esoteric for my tastes.

    1. I cancelled Gourmet a few months ago... I figure if I see an issue that I'm really interested in (usually the Christmas issue) then I'll just buy that one, but will probably never subscribe again.

      1. I've given up on Gourmet and Food & Wine and Bon Appetit are on my "don't renew" list. I'll stick with Saveur and see how things change over the next year.

        1. I recently got an offer for free magazines to use up airline miles and I started Gourmet again. I grew up in the 50' and 60's in a house where the Gourmet got a workout from my mother and when I got married in the late 60's I used her back issues ( she had copies going to the late 40's) to learn to cook. I especially loved the essays- memoirs of food writers from all over the world. MFK Fisher, one of the great American essayists was a regular contributor. The covers were amazing and the food pictures were works of art. What do I get now? Hack travel writers who only want to impress you with esoteric dishes, artsy food shots which do little to tempt you to cook and recipes that include too much time and too many "look at me" ingredients.

          I'll stick to Cooking Light.

          1 Reply
          1. re: eimac

            If Cooking Light would cut out all it's advertising (I once counted nearly 100 pages before even seeing a single recipe) then that magazine would be half the size.

          2. I had dropped F&W and Bon Appetit -- the recipe count seemingly goes down with each issue, lost to "lifestyle" articles (the reason I never subscribed to Gourmet). I realize this is what the marketing folks are telling them -- that people want to read about food, not make it -- but it's annoying. I've stuck with Saveur because at least the point of the articles is to interest you in the recipes. I've made a number, all good, and I get good ideas for combinations of ingredients.

            I do subscribe to Cooks Illustrated and Fine Cooking, but I wish there was a magazine of similar purpose but with more interesting recipes.

            1. I cancelled my Gourmet subscription several months ago - but keep buying it on the news stand now - it's some kind of compulsion. And, I actually liked a lot of things in this month's issue - which I can't locate at this moment - but the article about Olney was fascinating to me - I'd never heard of him before.

              1. I'm with you.

                Most of these previously useful cooking magazines have become
                "lifestyle" publications and no longer appeal to the true chowhound.

                They have so much advertising, they should pay us to read them.

                What irritates me is when their cover promises an article, but then you
                open up the magazine and it's nothing but a lengthy "Advertising
                Feature" instead. Ugh!

                I stick to Cooks Illustrated for food info and Robert Parker's wine
                newsletter.

                Besides these, there is so much free information on the internet to
                use.

                2 Replies
                1. re: bogie

                  do they really plug advertising features on the cover? that's shocking! :o

                  1. re: bogie

                    I used to love Cook's but after about a year it was the same kitchen test's recycled over and over. I still have all my old one's but when I look at a new one it turns out to be the same stuff.

                  2. I have never heard of an Advertising Feature being flagged on the cover as if it was an article. I cannot imagine any reputable magazine would do this. Also, I think it's kind of simplistic to say these magazines "only exist for the ads." Would people really still buy them if all they had were ads? However, it's true that in general, people don't have as much time to cook nor do they want to use difficult techniques. Another problem is that the core audience for all these magazines is getting older and older, and they can't survive unless they find a way to appeal to younger people, with lifestyle articles and "no-cook meals" and such.
                    However, Gourmet send out a nice free booklet of food essays this month that I plan to take on vacation with me. Now if only their covers weren't so ugly.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Chowpatty

                      I think that "bogie" meant that the article inside might just as well have been advertising. Not sure.

                      I also liked the essay booklet paired with Gourmet this month.

                      I am still in full revolt against the ad-heavy mags and will not renew. The photo of the folks sitting down to dinner between rows of plants in a field made me burst into hysterical laughter. Yeah, I always take the table out into the field and set the legs down in the dirt. Even the models at the table looked uncomfortable (can't remember whether this was in Gourmet or F/W.

                    2. My wife was incensed at the item in Food&Wine last month that gave suggestions on what to buy for dining in various restaurants. The notion that you should go out and spend $4,000 on a Dolce & Gabbana dress to eat at Le Cirque was offensive. It reminds me of those ridiculuos articles in Money magazine where they tell you the story of married 30 year-old anethesiologists who can't figure out what to do with that extra $250,000 in their checking account.

                      1. I cancelled Gourmet a year ago. It's not a bland as Bon Apetit and lacks the wine angle that keeps me subscribed to F&W. I agree with the person who was offended by the fashion spread in F&W. That was just dumb. I really like Donna Hay and wish she'd do an American version of her gorgeous Australian magazine.

                        1. I agree completely and am relieved that it is not just me. I would love to find a magazine that focused on the food. That showcased interesting and the more exotic food items. I would like it to also include information about the latest happenings in the food scene, but not written from an E hollywood reporters standpoint but that of someone who is actually living it (the chefs, etc.)

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: sweet.

                            A really good source for info like this is www.starchefs.com

                          2. I have Saveur and do cook from it. I get Food and Wine and use it occasionally, Gourmet is gone for good for me but I will continue to buy the annuals. Bon Appetite I occasionally pick up in a store....I noticed last week that in my grocery store and drug store most of the food mags have disappeared so I'll have to go to Borders or B&N. I have never really gotten into Taunton's Fine Cooking and I think C. Kimbal is on another planet. I may have to reconsider Fine Cooking. I dropped Cooking Light several years ago, too many recipes for desserts and too much sugar. I used to love the old Eating Well and mourned its demise but they push too much pasta and carbs for me. For the 2 of us lots of carbs is not eating well or light.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Candy

                              Candy... FYI... I like Fine Cooking a lot, but I think, from knowing you from your posts, that it may be a little "elementary" for you, but I guess I could be wrong! (That pink lemonade recipe was pretty darn good though!)

                              1. re: Katie Nell

                                You are probably right. I have found it a bit elementary but one does need some outside stimulation and prompting and the big 3 just cannot do it any more. The Conde Nast dumbing down with the "oh gosh don't you wish you could live like this?" bias is so off putting and then the whole Reichel persona, though I found her more appealing in Garlic and Sapphires than any other of her books. I have just picked up Mimi Sheraton's Eating My Words and am ready to get into it. She actually responded to one of my CH queries last fall so I am interested and have most of her books. I'll pick up a few Taunton's and give them a chance. Thanks for your input.

                                1. re: Candy

                                  Candy, I think FC is often elementary, and would be for you, but I keep seubscribing because they are really seasonal, and have great "reminders" of techniques and flavor combinations that have fallen out of my rotation-- plus they often have recipes from Molly Stevens, so I always learn something new. Plus, I'm not a good baker, and I find their desserts accessible and tasty.

                                  That said, three Gourmet issues this year (bought at the newstand) have yielded recipes that are now a permanent part of the rotation, Luxury Living Silliness aside. And while the same silliness is abundant in Food & Wine, there hasn't been an issue yet where I didn't make at least one recipe. And, I will admit, I actually made one of the recipes on one of the advertising inserts-- a buttermilk fried chicken (tenders) salad, that was actually quite good. I just try to let the special sections blur in front of me. : )

                            2. I have been subscribed to Gourmet since 1968 when I received it as a gift for my 15th B-day. It's followed me through more moves, jobs and relationships than I can count. My current subscription runs out this December and I will not renew it. I haven't read an actual article in it for almost 2 years and haven't cooked from it in even longer. This stands in stark contrast to the times when I would read it cover to cover and cook quite a few of the recipes in each issue.

                              Gourmet has lost it's internal compass and it's focus. What was once a very fine magazine about cooking and food can't seem to figure out what it's supposed to be now and has lost it's way.

                              I've got 3 or 4 more years on the Sauver subscription but will probably renew that. Even if I don't cook much from it, I do find a lot of interest in the articles and sidebars. Hmmm, that sounds a lot like the old "I only buy it for the articles" line about Playboy.

                              Cook's Illustrated is a great cerebral read but it's never managed to mesh with my emotional connection with food. It's always just seemed a little sterile for my taste.

                              What I find myself returning to more and more and cooking from more and more is Cuisine at Home.

                              1. Gourmet has been hopelessly dumbed down for years. since Conde Nast bought it. it has become no more than an optional read.

                                1. Did you all know that that essay packet in this month's gourmet was paid for by a company. I think Kitchenaid? Is is one big ad.

                                  1. I don't see how it matters -- yes, it was sponsored by a company that made it possible to run the booklet. It's not like Kitchenaid told any of those writers what to write about. I'm sorry to be so picky about the way some posts are worded, but having worked in both "custom publishing" and regular publishing, I feel like a lot of these readers are really mixed up about the difference between advertising and editorial.

                                    1. Gourmet has been on a downward spiral for years....

                                      Saveur still has beautiful articles and interesting factoids, but the recipes are just OK.

                                      Cooks Illustrated - well, if you like it, you like it. Its a bit technical, I wonder if men like it more than women.

                                      I ordered Taste of Home this year....wow...what a time warp! And a place warp- I am back in someones grandma's kitchen in Tennessee in 1965!!! But I have to admit that the recipes I have made from there have been very yummy. Not "foodie" enough for my Los Angeles life, but yummy!

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: msmd310

                                        It's funny i was just going to mention Taste of Home. As a vegetarian there's hardly anything in there for me to cook but the quantity of the recipes (some of which are veggie adapatable) and that ultra shiny cover just speaks to me in a warped sort of way.

                                        I could swear I discontinued Gourmet and Bon Apeptit but somehow I keep getting issues of Gourmet. It gets a once over (I admit the crumble recipe does sound good) and then usually gets recycled.

                                        1. re: msmd310

                                          The big problem with Taste of Home is actually digging through all the ads and blowins in the bag to find the magazine. I usually use the chaff to fill up all the prepaid credit card application envelopes and send them off.

                                          I gave up on Gourmet years ago, held on to Bon Appetit for the 30 minute meal type stuff in the back as well as the resto request recipes. I used to get 1 or 2 keeper recipes a month, now not so much. If my mom didn't give it to me for xmas every year I don't thnk I would resubscribe.

                                          The ability to go online and get recipes makes these mags less and less useful.

                                          1. re: msmd310

                                            I had Taste of Home, and Light and Tasty for years. The recipes get repetitive in them and sometimes are downright "What the....??" The food is too much like what I grew up with...uninteresting and not very imaginative. This is JMHO

                                            1. re: cooknKate

                                              I hear you, Mom gave me a sub to ToH, I don't get a lot of usable stuff out of it. My wife calls it flyover food.

                                            2. re: msmd310

                                              Being from MA, I don't know what you mean by- Not "foodie" enough for my Los Angeles life, but yummy!

                                            3. My subscription just ran out and I also decided not to renew. I got tired of seeing the stack of unread magazines on my coffee table. It seemed like every single recipe involved expensive exotic ingredients and took 6 hours to make. I just couldn't take it anymore.

                                              1. Like many of you, I will not be renewing my gourmet magazine. It seems to have gone downhill and I find it quite boring. Lately, they have been taking one topic and basing the whole issue on it (Montreal a couple months ago for example). The idea is interesting, but only if you find that particular topic interesting. If not, then your left to read the note from the editor. And we all know how much fun that is.

                                                1. Since letting my Gourmet susbsciption lapse several months ago I cannot tell you how many Final Notices I have received from them. It has gotten kind of humorous. They have got to be feeling the displeasure soon one would hope. And, if they do maybe do something about it?

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Candy

                                                    I keep getting a bunch too plus "this extra bonus gift as our thank you!"

                                                    1. re: Candy

                                                      Candy, I consider myself a close observer of the media. Time and again I've watched publications begin this death spiral and yet they refuse to change. Just look at the L.A. Times, New York Times and Newsweek. All three have been losing double digit numbers EACH YEAR in circulation. What do they print? More of the same. Gourmet will follow the same trend.

                                                    2. I get final notices from CI six months before my subscription is even up. For a publication that only comes out six times a year, I find this a little annoying. I don't think they'll be mailing anything without my payment in advance, and if they do, you think that one issue will put them under?

                                                      They sent an offer online which was cheaper than their usual renewal rate by mail. I asked them about it and they said they would honor the cheaper rate. I know they don't accept advertising, but I think the online $20 rate for access is just a little better deal as opposed to having both.

                                                      1. I stopped subscribing to Gourmet years ago due to the space issues. No place to put them any more and I have a built in bookcase in my kitchen. I did keep all my issues however.

                                                        If I want a Gourmet receipe I go to Epicurious.com. They have a bunch of Gourmet receipes.

                                                        1. I actually re-subscribed to F&W because they offerred 1 year for $12. At $1 an issue, I don't care if it mostly stinks.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: sbp

                                                            That's the offer that got me to try it. I like it a lot but likely will not renew it. We'll see what type of renewal fee they extend.

                                                          2. As mentioned above, I think more men than women might enjoy 'Cook's Illustrated', I am a subscriber and I actually use some recipies - and I'm a chef. I do not subscribe to any other food mag, although, I will buy 'Saveur' on the stand every once in a while.

                                                            1. I cancelled Gourmet a few years back. I am sick of the political bias, the trendiness, the obscure features, Not enough real cooking, real articles for real people about food,wine and travel.

                                                              1. I have cancelled both a few years ago as well. They are out of touch with the modern food lover. I love Saveur, Edible Boston, and Cooks Illustrated.

                                                                1. I never subscribed to Gourmet magazine,but did enjoy looking at the recipes and food photos.I would look at the bound volumes of it at the library.To me the magazine was about gracious eating and living.The old magazine was like an old landed gentry family,educated refined,not flashy,the kind of people who could mix with nobility and royalty,and at the same time enjoy eating and drinking in a little hole in the wall cafe in paris or london or elsewhere with the common man.
                                                                  The new Gourmet is flashy with lots of ads designed to appeal to the Nouve Riche(maynot be spelling it correctly),leaving the gentry and readers with class behind in favour of these
                                                                  loud,rude tasteless fools who think only of themselves and that they can buy anyone and anything with their money.

                                                                  1. Has anyone received Cuisine at Home? It's on the line of Cooks Illustrated. I just got a free copy in the mail. Seems okay but I already get CI.

                                                                    1. Every month I find great recipes in Food and Wine -- haven't noticed any diminution in quality over the years.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                                        pikawicca,
                                                                        I'm with you. While my F&W subscription has been "off" for a few years, EVERYTHING I have made from that magazine has been a success. I like the indicators of "healthy", "make ahead", etc. that they use on the recipe list, and the ones on the wine list as well.

                                                                        Gourmet.... I do still like it. I find the "somber" covers striking and very pleasant. The lifestyle articles are mostly OK, but I adore the "Gourmet everyday" section and the fast recipes.

                                                                        Andrea
                                                                        http://foodpart.com

                                                                      2. When I began to cook, I loved Cook's Illustrated- I am a very cognitive chef and loved the endless tests and variations- my first "real" cookbook was "the Best Recipe"- but while I was in culinary school, I was leanrning so much of the "why" of cooking with my own eyes and cooking first in restaurants, and later in larger kitchens- I outgrew Cooks- I do like to refer back to them now and then for simple cookie/pastry ideas, but I havent cooked anything from the magazine or the book in about 2 years- they sent me a free "Cooks Country"- I think it was the least appealing cooking periodical I've ever read.

                                                                        I let many of my subscriptions lapse as I flipped from apartment to apartment and job to job, but received gift subscriptions to F&W and Saveur over the last year- I have not actually cooked a single recipe from either one, but I LIKE the lifestyle articles- I find the whole package to be inspirational- i may not be able to afford to be in these places or have all of thoose ingredients right now, but man-oh-man do I want to!

                                                                        I just started receiving Gourmet as another gift subscription- the psat two issues have been noteworthy- one is their big 75th anniversary issue- full of essays and older recipes from bygone days- and the most recent is a restaurant issue- again, not full of must-try recipes, but an entertaining read.

                                                                        I am proud of my training and of what I have learned at various chefs' sides- i rarely refer to reciepes beyond using them as inspiration- that said- recipe heavy magazines like Fine Cooking are more my speed- a little more advanced in complexity than Cooks- but just right for some weekday noodling around.

                                                                        There was a short-lived magazine called "CHOW" that I picked up last year on the newsstand- I heard it went belly up after 2 issues- i really liked it- very approachable (there were lifestyle articles, but they were more like how to impress 20 of your friends for 20 bucks kind of a thing) and many recipes. Anyone else know of the magazine/know if they still exist?

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: lunchbox

                                                                          Try Chow.com - it exists online now, and is, in fact, the "sister" site of Chowhound.com. Forums there might look a bit familiar...

                                                                          1. re: lunchbox

                                                                            Scroll up to to the top of this thread's page, look in the upper right-hand corner for the link "CHOW" and click it. You'll go to the online version of the magazine you're asking about, recently resurrected and a sister site to Chowhound. Not sure if it's the same as the late magazine or if the format has changed, however.

                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                              BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
                                                                              I just thought it was an image- I never rolled my mouse over that before!
                                                                              I'm so glad CHOW still exists!

                                                                              Thanks Caitlin & Linda!

                                                                          2. Eating Well is the only food mag I actually subscribe to. I use every recipe. Their website is equally pleasing.

                                                                            With Internet vers. avail for most mags (mentioned) there is little reason to buy them. Recipes are handy and printable thru these sites and you don't have to contend with the nonsense mags are peddling month after month.

                                                                            Just use what you need and leave the rest!

                                                                            1. has the Art of Eating been mentioned here yet? it's a bit pricey for a quarterly, but totally worth it in my opinion. www.artofeating.com/

                                                                              1. The only magazine I subscribe to (besides trade periodicals) is Sunset, and only for the gardening help; I have bought both Gourmet and F&W off the shelf, usually when desperately bored in an airport.

                                                                                I can't stand it. It's this whole attitude of "if you can't afford this, you should envy it, and if you can, then you're better than everyone else".

                                                                                The last issue of F&W with that ridiculous thing about couture for food irked me to no end. The only place in Los Angeles I can think of where couture wouldn't be completely inappropriate is the Jonathan Club -- I mean, honestly, can you imagine wearing a couture gown to, say, Jar or Table 8? In point of fact, my wife inherited my grandmother's mink coats and has never had the occasion to wear them in Los Angeles.

                                                                                A nice suit, absolutely. A cocktail dress or even an evening gown, sure. But a $4,000 creation to eat a dinner that's going to cost you a tenth of that? What a crock.

                                                                                I used to get Taste of Home, exactly because there weren't any ads in it. Then they started plugging their other magazines in the plastic bag. Then they started with the clutter in the magazine and that was all she wrote.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                  I don't read any of that lifestyle crap, whether it's in Gourmet, Food and Wine, or Cooking Light (the worst offender, IMO). I'm just here for the food, so all I'm interested in is the recipes. Many of the recipes in all of these mags are good-to-great.

                                                                                2. Simple Cooking is another good one. http://www.outlawcook.com

                                                                                  1. I just finished reading Ruth Reichl's book "Garlic and Sapphires." Knowing the passion Ruth has for food, it is sad to see Gourmet become a magazine that is increasingly little more than "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous Who Sometimes Eat Well."

                                                                                    1. I used to get 7 cooking magazines, then narrowed it down to Saveur, Eating Well and Cooks Illustrated, then F&W gave me an offer I couldn't refuse so I am trying that for a year.

                                                                                      I love Saveur for the articles, and rarely even see something to cook in it. The articles are like traveling from your armchair, full of rich descriptions, explanations, culture and history. The photos are beautiful too. Since I am not in a position to be able to explore these places on my own, this magazine does it for me, much cheaper too I might add!

                                                                                      I cook a lot from Eating Well, and I like their articles on the latest health information. One of my most favorite mags of all time used to be Natural Health (USED TO BE) then they changed their format to look like a glamor mag, with skinny doe eyed models and fashion segments (in a HEALTH magazine!?!) which made me drop it like a bad meal. There is a lot of info in Eating Well that is similar to what NH once had. Their recipes are nutritionally sound for the most part, and most of what I have made has been very good.

                                                                                      I like CI because of the 'science' behind the cooking, the product reviews and the knowledge that any recipe out of it is going to be stellar. I have 'The Best Recipe' and use it ALL the time. Everything out of it has been top notch.

                                                                                      1. I like Cooks Illustrated because I like to know why things turn out the way they do. Since baking is basically a chemical reaction, I found some of the baking articles especially helpful because they outlined what was going on and why certain things worked the way they did. The recipe doesn't have to be that good since I can go to epicurious or allrecipes for those, but honestly the recipes I've tried have been pretty good for the most part.

                                                                                        1. It's funny this thread was bumped because I was going to point out how in the couple of years I've been on chowhound about once every few months someone writes a post about how they hate Gourmet. And yet it thrives.

                                                                                          I love it. Here's how it goes in my house:

                                                                                          Husband comes home from work and I hear the magic words,

                                                                                          "Honey! Your Food Porn is here!"

                                                                                          Then over the next couple of days I plan a special time alone where I curl up in bed, or sit with hot tea on the couch and I revel in the absolute beauty of the pictures: the kitchens I'll never have, the food I'll never devour, the places I'll never visit, the chefs I'll never see naked....sigh... thankfully my husband doesn't see it as cheating.

                                                                                          1. Alas, Gourmet. I subscribed for over 20 years. I remember when it was one of America's finest magazines, and actually was written for gourmets, not arriviste snobs who can't tell money from class. You remember, before Ruth Reichle decided to use her power as editor to show all those people who actually got invited to the Prom who was the big, important girl now! I remember reading Gerald Asher's (the finest wine writer writing in the English language) article every month, and wanting to go out, immediately, and buy bottles of the wine he was covering that month; she turned that into "six New Zealand whites to serve with Guacamole!". I cooked countless dishes from their pages, celebrating fresh fruits and vegetables of the season; recipes that called for asparagus in February and apples in March began to appear, along with overpriced hard-to-find (even in New York City!) ingredients. Sadly, Gourmet is now just another lifestyle rag, with wet-dream articles about restaurants you'll probably never eat in, and hotels you can't afford to stay in. Dangling all those expensive things and thinking it's "class" is really the same as leaving the label on the sleeve of a new jacket to show everone that it really IS camelhair. Really! 100% See?

                                                                                            1. HollyDolly: Great post! If you ever have the chance to meet Ruth Reichle in person, you'll understand why the magazine has gone, sadly, in that direction.