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Feb 13, 2007 04:02 PM

Is it a food magazine or a fan magazine?

This week I received the latest issues of issues of Food & Wine and Bon Appetit. I was dismayed to see that Food & Wine has "Secrets of the Hottest TV Chefs" on the cover and Bon Appetit has a Giada di Laurentiis cover story.

Now, I had decided some time ago not to renew my subscription to either of these magazines, but I am really astonished at the speed with which these publications are morphing into a sort of Tiger Beat for TV hosts.

I read food magazines to learn about food. I don't really care about the chefs.

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  1. I can't remember specifics, but I remember being more disappointed in the abundance of pre-made ingredients, aka semi-homemade stuff. I had decided a while ago not to renew also.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Katie Nell

      I didn't make it clear obviously, but I was referring to Bon Appetit.

      1. re: Katie Nell

        I find Gourmet and Bon Appetit to be similar, but I do not subscribe to BA 'cause where Gourmet starts with ingredients, BA starts w/ pre-made (e.g., canned goods, frozen concentrates, etc.)
        When I search on epicurious, I know that when it's a BA recipe it will start half-way through home-made.

        1. re: NYchowcook

          I can't imagine what you're talking about in reference to BA: I just pulled up 20 random recipes from BA on epicurious, and there wasn't 1 pre-made ingredients in the bunch!

          1. re: NYchowcook

            I just flipped through a recent Bon Appetit, and all of the recipes were completely from scratch. Same experience as pikawicca on

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Obviously you didn't flip hard enough...

              - page 42: For dessert, purchased brownies
              - page 111: chocolate wafer cookies, not as an ingredient, but as a cookie with a filling
              - page 124: refrigerated pizza dough in a tube

              While I don't have a problem with occasionally using store-bought items, it's not why I pick up or subscribe to a cooking magazine. I even would rather see someone following Sandra Lee's lead than eating at Pizza Hut every night, but if Bon Appetit is considered a serious cooking magazine, I don't want to see it there.

            2. re: NYchowcook

              In my experience, BA does include lots of crummy ingredients including the reason I cancelled my sub last year-- chopped frozen onions. Pathetic. This is a fairly new practice in the last five years. The recipes are also simplier and less exotic as a whole.

              I receive almost all of the them and each month most have something that interests me. The F&W issue was ridiculous and I did right them an email to complain.

          2. Food & Wine is published by American Express. Not a quality publication. I'm amazed they can get anybody to pay for it.

            Bon Appetit's a serious cooking magazine with many good recipes. Giada di Laurentis is a serious, well-trained, experienced cook and cookbook author with a lot of great recipes to share.


            3 Replies
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              I have honestly found some very good cooking ideas and recipies in Food and Wine. Sometimes its fluff, but I usually find something worthwhile - and all I buy food mags for are the recipies and ideas.

              Otherwise, I get Cooks Illustrated which can be a little didactic but is usually a good read. Gourmet, Saveur are just food porn and trend spotting to me. I'll take a look at Bon Apetit.

              1. re: wak

                I get F&W also, and have found many good recipes in the issues, and plenty of inspiration to use for my own creations.

                I find their stories to be much too fluffy; too many pictures of superbly smiling people in impossibly beautiful locations, all dressed very chic with tons of gorgeous foods.

                For good food writing that's much more readable, I stick with Saveur.

              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                I recall that, at one time, Food & Wine was a free perk that came with an American Express card. Somewhere along the way, they discovered that people WERE willing to pay for it. Go figure...

              3. Giada di Laurentis was recently on the cover of Town and Country. With chefs becoming such mega celebrities, it seems like anything goes.

                1. I personally like Saveur and Cook's Illustrated. I consider both of these "serious" cooking publications.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: Quine

                    I haven't been as impressed with Saveur since Colman Andrews left and have decided to let my subscription expire. I gave up BA & Gourmet a couple of years ago in protest to the endless recycling ~ The Thanksgiving Issue! The Grilling Issue! Holiday Baking! etc.

                    1. re: foodfan

                      The cooking magazines just reflect people's habits in that.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        When my mother died, I went through her recipe clippings and found an easy dozen newspaper sections and articles on how to cook turkey for Thanksgiving ~ maybe that is who they are geared for ~ serial collectors.

                        1. re: foodfan

                          The cover themes are geared toward newsstand sales.

                          The annually recurring features don't account for more than maybe 15% of any one issue.

                      2. re: foodfan

                        I feel the same way about Saveur these days. The latest issue held promise: all about wild-caught shrimp! Terrific! Then I read the article, which was a disappointment. The accompanying recipes weren't ground-breaking, either. Saveur used to go beyond the obvious, but I haven't seen much evidence of that in recent issues.

                        1. re: Hungry Celeste

                          I plan to make the Peruvian Chickpea Porridge on pg. 67, the Red-Cooked Pork Belly on pg.75, and the Chocolate Babka on pg. 82.

                          1. re: pikawicca

                            Oh, please report to the HC board after you try those! I'm tempted to try making the babka, but got a little deterred by the sponge cake crumbs needed.

                            My opinion on this thread topic is that all food mags seem to have gone downhill over the years, including Saveur. While there are good recipes every now and then, the content, articles, and photos just don't seem as inspiring as they once were. Maybe my expectations have also increased w/ more food experience. I imagine it's also more challenging to compete w/ the online world of blogs, message boards, recipe sites, etc.

                            Speaking of the Web, Saveur has introduced a new, improved look to their website which I noticed a couple weeks back. I'm hoping they will have more recipes in their database (like epicurious) than they used to...


                            1. re: pikawicca

                              I thought the babka was an overly fussy recipe compared to others I've used. Pls report on the texture--

                              1. re: pikawicca

                                I want to try those recipes too. Except for the chocolate babka. I feel the same way as CL and HC - when I saw that the recipe required sponge cake crumbs I decided if I wanted to make chocolate babka I'd use on eo f the dozens of other recedipes I have for it. But I'd love to hear what you thought of it and if you thought it was worth all the trouble.

                        2. I dropped BA over a year ago but will buy an issue off of the stand if I find something appealing. My Food and Wine is expiring and won't be renewed it is simply not worth the cost. I have Saveur and still find it appealing and occasionally inspiring. I thought Gourmet had turned the corner and fianlly renewed I won't next time 'round, ugh!