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The "new" Bon Appetit (magazine)

Okay, so it's the 2nd issue of the revamped Bon Appetit magazine, and I'm wondering what others think.

Even though I am known for being a little weird with change, I don't think that comes in to play here. The bottom line is, I just plain hate it. As I was reading (or trying to read) the Febuary issue, I thought to myself, this magazine has been Rachel Rayed: Similar font and cover page presentation, pull out meal planners, quick fixes for supper, doing taste tests and miraculously finding that a regular advertiser's product is in the top 5 or 6 (that's not new with the revamping though) - and half the time I couldn't tell the difference between an advertisement (especially when Cat Cora's picture was included with a recipe) and the actual magazine.

I don't know why they decided to redo the mag, but I for one, HATE IT.

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  1. I am so with you on this. I have been an ardent supporter of Bon Appetit on this board, as you can see from my previous post on the matter. I have always felt that the recipes were well tested and well chosen, and so I have been ignoring the annoying face lift over the last year or two. But now it has gone too far. The whole magazine has turned into a complete advertisement. If they didn't write "special advertising supplement" on most of the ads, I wouldn't know what is what! But the most egregious moment of the Feb. issue: My partner sees the wonderful photo of the whole wheat blueberry pancakes on the cover. So he turns to the recipe, and finds that one of the ingredients is a commercially prepared whole wheat pancake mix! How hard is it to make pancakes from scratch? Sure, include this recipe as a quick and easy dish if you want, but as the cover recipe? I just found that weird. The odd thing is that the other recipes in the issue seem to be fairly legit. But I am concerned that this is the start of a change in the recipes. I don't need to buy a magazine to tell me how to open boxes and cans, I've figured that out myself.

    I've also noticed that the actual volume of content has dropped dramatically. It used to take me a couple of hours to go through the magazine. The Feb. Issue took me about 30-40 mintues. I spent more effort fllipping past ads than actually reading.

    I'm in a bit of a quandary, as I have really liked some of the recipes from this magazine in the past. I guess I'll have to wait and see.

    1 Reply
    1. re: moh

      I agree with you on the content taking a lot less time to read. I used to pick it up to read at least a couple of times before finishing it. I read the Jan edition in about 30 minutes. Picked it up the next night, and found I hadn't missed anything, I had finished. Disappointing.

    2. I thought I was the only one...the magazine has gone downhill. I always appreciated the lush photos in addition to the interesting recipes. Imagine my surprise upon seeing all those drawings that littered the magazine.

      I used to make many recipes from this mag, but now I seem to just read it through and toss it aside. I'm hoping they will settle down and get things on track again.

      1. Unfortunately, it's become somewhat 'classless.'.
        A shame

        1. As a former full-time magazine editor, I can tell you that it will take a bit of time for BON APPÉTIT to hit its new stride. I'm not crazy about the layouts, and I've never liked mixing serif and sans serif typefaces, which the new BA does relentlessly. But frankly, FINE COOKING is downright uglly, yet many of the recipes are very good indeed. As for the recipes in the "new" BON APPÉTIT, I think a lot of them are on the same level as before. I haven't read the February issue yet, but I found 11 recipes that I want to try. As for simplistic and box/can-oriented, there are very few like that in the January issue. What on earth is simple about Whole Fish Baked in Salt Crust?

          All that said, I agree that there has been a gradual "dumbing-down" of recipes in most American cooking magazines. I think the editors are watching TVFN too closely for clues as to how people want to cook/eat.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Tom Steele

            i thought i was the only one who hated the font...for some reason, i found the new print really hard to read...

          2. I'm glad it's not only me that's noticed my BA and Gourmet mag's getting thinner.

            7 Replies
            1. re: im_nomad

              Contrary to what a previous poster said, the magazine has taken a definitive turn for the worse. When I picked up the Jan issue, I attributed its thinness to it being January blah blah, but now that Feb is just like it, and chock full of ads, I was less than pleased.

              As a full time chef, I was neither inspired nor impressed with the quality of the recipes or the new: get it done quicker focus. If I want quicker, I'll chew off my arm and buy Rachel Ray (well, you know what, no, I won't. I'll never buy Rachel Ray's mag... )

              1. re: maisonbistro

                Glad I'm not the only one who found Bon Appetit becoming very anemic. Yes, some months are just fatter than others, but this is NOT the BA I used to love and anticipate every month.

                Please dont even put RR's magazine in the same category, however. BA can revitalize itself..... Rachael Ray Everyday hasn't got a prayer. And speaking of RR, I saw a dozen bottles of her EVOO on the shelf in the market recently -- every one of her pictures had been "decorated" with a mustache or horns.

                1. re: Cheflambo

                  Ugh. Are you telling me I made the wrong choice for my free mag from Amazon? I hadn't seen Bon Appetit for a while and chose it b/c I read my friend's Gourmet. Too bad Cooks Illustrated wasn't one of the choices...

                  1. re: vonwotan

                    slightly off topic question- i also was offered a free mag from amazon but have not had any issues arrive yet. how long am i supposed to wait?

                    1. re: pierrot

                      Don't know yet - I'm still waiting...

                      1. re: pierrot

                        I bet it could be as long as 6-8 weeks.

                    2. re: Cheflambo

                      I don't get Bon Appetit (used to get Food & Wine, but dropped that several years ago), but just had to comment - I broke out laughing when I read your last sentence about every bottle of RR's olive oil being "decorated." <vbg>

                2. I agree, also.

                  I have noticed Food & Wine is continuing to impress. The latest issue was great!

                  1. I didn't really look at the Jan issue during the holidays but I just got the Feb and my first reaction was "this is not Bon Appetit" OK, I can take the color in the title but in the rest of the magazine as well...it looks cheap. And please, Amy Finley as a columnist? I am only hoping that it was for this issue only and won't be reoccuring. If the best Bon Appetit can do is use a realty show winner as a columnist, I can't see them turning this around. And I miss the Entertaining with Style feature every month. Yes, my sister and I would always make fun of how "perfect" each family was (so not like us!) but some of my best recipes are from those features. And RSVP is now "Letters"?

                    I HATE it too. I have a feeling that my subscription will not be renewed....

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Squint

                      I had the same reaction...a simple design refresh would have been most welcome, but this is just downscale. The teeny-tiny type at the top of most pages is also a real barrier to enjoying the read.

                    2. i thought the january issue was ok but the feb issue was so uninteresting/boring, it took me all of 15 minutes to page through. it was their "green, eco-friendly" issue. if it were 1999, i am sure it would have been the no/low carb issue. simply following the masses of popular culture. thanx, but no thanx. i hope that my tossing it into the fireplace did not contribute to "global warming."

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: xman887

                        I was going to comment about the "green" angle too! I have been subscribing to BS for about 7 years now and I really really hate the new layout! I have friend who is a trained chef (is now and NYC fireman) and he hates BS. He keeps trying to get me to try Saveur Magazine. Anybody read it?

                        1. re: HungryRubia

                          I go in and out of Saveur phases -- I like the articles, but I'm not generally inspired to try the recipes. Last year, I did make a fabulous lemon tart based on a recipe from Saveur, but that's one recipe over many years.

                          1. re: HungryRubia

                            i have read saveur for years. i enjoy it but rarely use their recipes. i think their features are a more in-depth focus on a place, a type of food, or an ingredient where you get a little history lesson and/or a little social commentary. in some ways, it is similar to a conde nast traveler, travel and lesiure, or even anthony bourdain's "no reseservations." just know what you are getting when you pick it up so you won't be disappointed if you are expecting a lot of fundamental nuts and bolts recipes.

                            1. re: HungryRubia

                              i LOVE saveur.... it's the only food mag i read regularly (we had a subscription for years). like a pp said, you get some very in depth articles. and i like their recipes - we've used many of them. it's very low on ads (only one or 2 register in my memory). if you're into reading about food ingredients, travels, local stuffs, etc, i'd urge you to pick up a copy and see if you like it.

                              1. re: HungryRubia

                                saveur is the only "general food discussion" magazine worth its salt.

                                for me, cook's illustrated for recipes, saveur for food culture.

                              2. re: xman887

                                I liked this issue more than most this year, because of its focus on fresh, seasonal produce. I like the new graphics/photos a lot -- seems much fresher and not the same old/same old. And, frankly I don't care how someone else's family (almost always a VERY traditional one.) entertains...so I don't miss the entertaining style section at all.

                                I agree that recent issues have been thin on content, and I *refuse* to buy pancake mix for any recipe - even if it is "quicker". I find that I am mostly reading for inspiration, and am not making many of the recipes though. Perhaps I'll switch to Food & Wine when my subcriptions comes up again.

                              3. All the articles are very short. I like sinking into a story, but with this issue I was just flipping pages. It's like junk food. Not satisfying. Also, I learned nothing new about their "green" issues. While I agree that buying and eating locally grown, organic, seasonal food is important, I didn't sense any real passion in the stories, rather that they'd had done a study and decided this was the way to go. It was all so superficial. Gourmet, while not perfect, has had some long, in-depth stories about environmental or ethical issues that have at least given me some new insights. (Those stories usually inspire angry letters, which proves at least they're pushing some buttons.) This issue of Bon Appetit seemed almost cynical, it was so by-the-numbers.

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: Glencora

                                  Superficial is the perfect way to describe it. The only article I found somewhat interesting was the one on the Tuscan farm, and it felt like they had edited out all the interesting details and left in the fluff and platitudes. Too bad. The pictures were great, and I would have loved a lot more information on the farm.

                                  Sometimes I think there is more content in the ads...

                                  1. re: moh

                                    Superficial is right. I didn't think much about it in January, as that issue is usually pretty slim, but the February issue seemed to say almost less. I'm another one not in favor of the new format/content.

                                    1. re: moh

                                      I was so disappointed that they didn't include more recipes from the article on the Tuscan farm. I was annoyed at the sheer volume of ads and "Fast/Easy recipes". I liked BA until the December issue came out. I thought that maybe it was the "shakedown cruise" with the new layout. The latest issue just made me mad. I went through it in half and hour and tossed it aside. Nothing caught my attention and as Glencora said, nothing they said about "green" issues was news to me.

                                      As for the slimness of it... ironically, I was looking through my stack this morning and was really taken aback at how skinny the latest issue is compared to any past issue. I hope things don't stay this way... I still have another 10 issues on my subscription.

                                      1. re: geekyfoodie

                                        January and Februrary are the two slowest ad revenue months, largely because agencies blow their budgets in November and December, so magazines ordinarily cut back on content for those months.

                                        1. re: Tom Steele

                                          So how do you explain the abudance of advertising in this month's issue??

                                          The thing is, if this is the rule then all other magazines go through the same problem, but the Jan issue of Gourmet is pretty much the same as any other month's issue.

                                          I just think that the powers that be at BA decided to take a different approach, and well, at least from the Chowhound's perspective, it might not have been such a good idea.

                                        2. re: geekyfoodie

                                          Maybe that's their answer to the "green issue" -- fewer pages means less paper.

                                          Back in the day, BA was such a classy rag. It feels very "Real Simple" to me now -- quickie tips for moms on the go and pseudo-celebs yakking about what makes life great for them. Ho hum.

                                          1. re: bards4

                                            When was "back in the day"? Would the early 90's work? My mother has issues from '93, when she subscribed for a year. I should borrow them.

                                            Love this big blue marble we're on, but they'd save more paper by removing those odious ads. ;) Guess advertising revenue trumps trees.

                                            1. re: geekyfoodie

                                              You should borrow them even just to see how food fads have changed since then. And, for that matter, the ads. I wonder if there are more ads in the newly designed BA compared to the ones in the early 90's. Hmmmm. :o)

                                            2. re: bards4

                                              hmm...maybe they are trying to reach a larger demographic, like Real Simple mag has?...i.e. not those of us who are passionate about cooking.

                                        3. re: Glencora

                                          I agree -- I am not a fan so far, and the cover looks awful -- hate the font and design. Even the celeb interview was too short at the end. I've tried two recipes from Feb (Pasta Putt and fish with olives, lemons, etc. and both were ho hum).

                                        4. complaining on chowhound won't help "fix" it. If you truly wish it were back the old way, write to Barbara Fairchild, the EIC! They don't want to lose subscribers!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: ChefJune

                                            Did that already. I like to speak my mind all over the place LOL

                                          2. I just renewed my subscription about 2 weeks ago and as soon as the January issue can in I started regretting my decision. I don't really mind the graphic changes. That type of thing is always jarring until you get used to it but the lack of interesting or relevant content is upsetting. I assumed that it was just the dull, old January issue type thing, but now that I'm hearing you all say that the February issue is no imporvement (I still haven't received it) I'm definitely wondering why I renewed.

                                            1. oops, am I the only one who loves the new look? I think so. :(

                                              I actually haven't been a regular reader of Bon Appetit, I always thought it too stodgy. But I have to say the new fresh look caught my eye at the newstands and I picked it up and bought it out of curiousity.

                                              I have to say that I love the new graphic treatment. It's cleaner, fresher, and brighter. It made me feel more refreshed reading it. I also thought the photography was still of a high quality.

                                              But I do agree that some of the recipes didn't seem as exciting or complex. They do feel dumbed down. I will agree with that point.

                                              But from a graphic point of view, I like it. It accomplishes the job of being fresh and modern.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: singleguychef

                                                I don't mind some of the look. I guess I am most frustrated by the lack of content, and I get testy when I can't tell what's advertising and what is not. And I absolutely agree that the photography is still fabulous.

                                                The ads are quite beautiful, and sometimes seem to have just as much content as the articles. It almost seems they put more effort into the ads. Heck, they probably do...

                                                1. re: moh

                                                  You know, thinking about it, aren't all food magazines all one big advertisement anyway? Kind of like the fashion mags. When you do an article on "beef" it ends up being an excuse for consumers to go out and buy "beef". Or "Persian cuisine". or whatever. It's all ads. So maybe I am being a bit hypocritical in my criticism.

                                                  That being said, I still hate the new format. Eye Candy, I say. I want more meat (figuratively speaking).

                                                2. re: singleguychef

                                                  I totally agree. I am not a longtime reader but I felt that the new look was clean, fresh and graphically interesting. Note that the vast majority of the comments are negative. Having had a career in a design/creative field, I can tell you that the vast majority of people who elect to speak their mind will be the negatives. The postives rarely speak out. I can't speak for the content because I am not a longtime reader and, thus, have no basis for comparison.

                                                  One also needs to realize that the quantity of editorial content is largely decided by the amount of advertising content. Higher circ yields more ads which, in turn, yields more content. (The exception to this rule is women's magazines like Cosmo, which are mostly ads) Advertorials, like the Cat Cora thing, are very high revenue for magazines.

                                                  Give it time everyone; you'll adjust, the editors will adjust and all will be right with the world again. A magazine can't stay the same forever and has to change to be fresh and modern. It will always ruffle some feathers.

                                                3. I'm glad my subscription is about to run out. Before the makeover, it was about 60% ads. Now it's closer to 70% adds. Not worth the money anymore.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: jjbourgeois

                                                    I just let my subscription lapse after receiving BA for over 10 years. It seems to me that the once elegant magazine has turned into another common place read. I'm now looking for something new. Any suggestions in addition to Food and Wine?

                                                    1. re: morganast

                                                      Try Imbibe. It's drinks, not cooking, but very fresh and most of the recipes are for making your own mixes. (homemade Maraschino cherries are amazing!)

                                                      I think all mags go through phases. I almost cancelled Food and Wine about six months ago (sub. since '94) because it just seemed so repetitive and boring but didn't due to laziness...and now it's interesting again. We should probably give BA a chance, maybe just another 2-3 months or until SUMMER!

                                                  2. I'm with you, and when my subscription runs out in a couple of months, that's it. What I really, REALLY hate is what I refer to as "S-U-G-A-R" -- Selling Under the Guise of Authentic Recipes. Look at all of those ads designed to make you think they're actual feature articles when they're nothing more than multi-page promotions for food companies. Shame on the editorial staff for believing they can slack off and fool their readers with promotional content instead of well-written features. With that amount of advertising, they ought to give the magazine away free.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: CindyJ

                                                      Magazines don't tell advertisers how to advertise. Advertisers make their ads look like editorial content because they think that will make readers spend more time looking at the ad, not because the editorial staff wants them to.

                                                      I find it kind of funny when people complain in knowing tones that a magazine is going "downhill" because it has "so many ads." Magazines ATTRACT ads by being SUCCESSFUL, and the ad money in turn makes them more successful. They can't just print up ads becausethey don't have compelling stories to fill the space. Someone has to BUY the ad.

                                                      That said, the new BA may suck. I haven't looked at it.

                                                    2. I have to agree. I sometimes browse the magazine if I'm at the book store, but I let my subscription lapse years ago. I sensed the commercialization of the magazine about 7 years ago and just felt is has gone down hill ever since.

                                                      I 've noticed this with other mags recently as well. I prefer Cook's Illustrated...I avoid annoying advertising and it is better written. I also like Food & Wine from time to time. But my only subsciption is to Cook's Illustrated.

                                                      1. i totally agree - i got this subscription free with the cookbook and will not be renewing. even their holiday promotion - 2 subscriptions for $10 - indicates how cheap the mag has become. i did enjoy the green issue, though i agree with another poster that it seemed halfhearted, as though that was the big consumer trend they picked up on and decided to exploit for the month. but i will pass that issue along to my non-foodie friends and hope they pick up a few good ideas to start doing their part for the planet. i'm going to do my part and save some trees - no more bon appetit for me.

                                                        1. I've never really loved BA, but a couple years ago when my mom got me a gift subscription for XMAS, I didn't turn it down. Since then I've enjoyed it to some extent, enough to accept a continued annual gift from mom (who's been a subscriber for at least 20 years herself). After all, I don't want her to waste her money. I don't love the new look but I don't hate it either. However, the Feb. issue was really terrible, I read through it in less than 30 minutes and into the recycling it went. That's a new record, and it was intact, with nary a recipe having been clipped. January wasn't much better. I'll see how it goes this year.

                                                          My subscription to CI is about to run out and I'm not renewing, I'm bored with it and I realize that while some of the articles are interesting, I never cook from it. I have an issue with them always wanting to use "cheap" cuts of meat. Maybe it's the word. I re-upped Fine Cooking for 3 years, yes it's not very exciting but I like the content and recipes. Gourmet, I had for a year for super inexpensive, and I didn't renew (this from someone who subscribed for at least a decade, back in the 80's & 90's).

                                                          1. I just recieved my February copy of B.A..........not impressed....what is with all the cartoon-ey stuff and drawings? And hardly a page would pass without two or three filled with adds..

                                                            Has BA had major budget cuts or something?? it looks cheapened.

                                                            1. Their new logo looks like "Microsoft 1992". The graphic artist that created it must have been trapped in time at some Starbucks with WiFi access. As to the smaller page count, the reality of magazine publishing is that costs for commercial printing paper are going to increase 25% in 2008. Subscriptions to most publications are declining so they cannot ask for higher advertising rates to cover the increased production costs. A truly smart editor would increase the value of the content; instead, they are dumming it down.
                                                              It's ironic that a publication filled with recipes would follow one to disaster.

                                                              1. I consistenly enjoy Cuisine at Home. They put out only 6 editions a year but each edition has recipes I enjoy and _zero_ advertising.

                                                                Also, add me to the list of people who hate, hate, hate the 4-1 ratio of advertisements masquerading as content to the real recipes and articles. They seem to feel that giving the magazine away for free (or $5/year) and loading it with ads is their best strategy. I have let my subscription expire but would seriously considering paying 3 to 5 times their current rate for an edition with far fewer or zero ads. Also, they certainly have the ability to control the format of the advertisements they include.

                                                                1. Their new logo looks like "Microsoft 1992". I'm not sure why they would want to adapt a 15 year old look in the 21st century. What's next, a review of top Amish microwaves?

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. I have not gotten BA in the past, I don't subscribe to any magazines. But I recently found a huge BA cookbook on the clearance table and it came with a free subscription. I haven't gotten the first issue yet but needless to say I'm disappointed to hear this! Well, at least it was free.

                                                                    1. I also hate the new Bon Appetit. I have years and years of old issues of BA upstairs. I look forward to it every month (or used to at least) and had my own well-loved ritual of curling up with the issue and carefully paging thru it with a hot cup of tea - planning what new dishes I would try that month. Whereas I cycled thru Cooks Illustrated, Food and Wine, Gourmet over the years, BA was always always always in the magazines (or only magazine) I would subscribe to. When I saw the first "new" issue - I thought it was a "free" holiday issue of the mag. I just put it aside... Then, the second "green" one came - and it was the first time I actually recycyled an issue of BA and I didn't save it. But, I tried to keep an open mind... it was STILL the same editor in chief...I thought for sure she wouldn't complete change everything. The third issue just arrrived. I can honestly say I hate it. I am completely uninspired to try any of the recipes; I find it hard to read and I hate that the photography which is so huge and unappealing... I am so disappointed. Now, I can't wait til Food and Wine comes.

                                                                      1. Ok, so what do y'all think of the March issue (if you're still getting it)? I haven't read everything, but so far I'm not as disappointed with this one as I was with the last issue.

                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                                          My March issue just arrived yesterday and I haven't had a chance to look it over yet but I'm also disappointed so far. One thing that I find particularly annoying besides how thin it has become - is the fact that my mag arrives without the headlines on the cover page. When I called to complain I was told "that most readers prefer a cover without headlines because some readers actually frame the covers as the photography is so beautiful"!!?? Huh, is this actually true?? I am not making this up. Sounds odd to me, but whatever. Personally speaking, I like to see headlines. It catches my eye, and it helps for me to recall what that particular issue is about when I'm searching for a recipe.

                                                                          1. re: millygirl

                                                                            It's been my experience that with both BA and Gourmet, if you are a subscriber, the cover is bare. The headlines are reserved for the newsstand copies.
                                                                            However, I must say that I too am disappointed with the issue. The corned beef with fontina looks so unappetizing to me. But that's IMHO.
                                                                            This may come off a bit pretentious, but I am a little put off that BA is "teaching" me how to get shells off a hard-boiled eggs. I have always assumed that the magazine was geared towards people who are not beginners and I feel that their techniques section is a bit dumbed down. Gourmet has a Kitchen Notebook section that highlights special techinques showcased in their recipes. However, they usually deal with some sort of special topics that avid home cooks don't encounter on a regular basis.. like candy making or a technique for an unusual ethnic dish. Or sometimes it gives you sources for hard to find ingredients. Sorry BA, I don't need a primer on how to choose my saucepan.
                                                                            I guess I am annoyed because it continues the whole "dumbing down" trend that was started by the Food Network.
                                                                            I agree that not everyone is an accomplished home cook, but they already have their sources! Ok vent over! LOL!

                                                                            1. re: HungryRubia

                                                                              I TOTALLY agree with the "teaching" trend in the BA looking way out of place. The Feb issue: how to separate garlic, how to strip herb sprigs, how to cut a butternut squash, and in what order to zest/juice a lemon....I'm beginning to feel like i've subscribed to something that might have been helpful to me when i was maybe 16.

                                                                              1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                They actually are now telling you in what order to zest/juice a lemon? Isn't that a "major DUH!" moment for anyone who's been cooking for any period of time?

                                                                                If I subscribed, I would also see Bon Appetit as a subscription for someone who knows the general techniques and is looking for special topics, new food items coming into the country, etc. Wow, this is now WAY different than the mag I used to read on occasion 10-15 years ago.

                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                  Yes, it's an explanation of what to proceed with first, if your recipe calls for both zest AND the juice...in other words, zest the fruit before you cut it and squeeze it. DUH. Gee, and here I was chopping up my oranges and wondering why I couldn't get all those little pieces to work with the zester....

                                                                                  Never mind the fact that the drawings in the mag look like they were done by a child ( on a side note, on the epi site boards , one poster referred to them as looking like the "Highlights" magazine, lol, so true!)

                                                                                  I became attracted to these types of magazines after i learned to cook and became interested in trying new dishes, and specifically more high end, complicated type ones. That's not what i'm seeing here any more. They're really not giving their readership the credit they deserve here.

                                                                        2. I too am disappointed with the revamping of BA. I've been a fan since the 80's and was originally attracted because of their authentic ethnic recipes. They have certainly strayed from those roots.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: JFeast

                                                                            try the magazine Saveur, really great!

                                                                          2. Add me to the list of non-believers... I particularly don't like the huge, oversized photos of food bigger than my head. I don't need to see vanilla cream splashed all over a full page. And I gotta say that the sandwich on the cover of this month's mag looked pretty unappetizing what with the big chunks of meat and all. Won't be framing that puppy. I still say it feels like a skinny version of Real Simple. Maybe they should call it Real Simple Cooking.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: bards4

                                                                              I've also been bitterly disappointed in most of the new look -- the itsy-bitsy typeface, those pointless slashes, the dumbed-down recipes -- and I completely agree that the cover recipe was revolting. I took it on a short flight on Friday -- where I was also surprised to breeze through a cover-to-cover reading before we landed -- and was mildly embarrassed to be seen with that sandwich in my hands. That said, I actually thought those ingredient close-ups were ravishing...I even looked to see who the photographer was, and I think he did a phenomenal job of making cabbage look sexy. Now, if only they'd give me a few more of those go-to cakes that keep me subscribing...

                                                                              1. re: ganacher

                                                                                I'm a fan of the big food, too. Withholding judgment on the rest of it for now.

                                                                            2. I'm wondering how many of your wrote to ba to voice your complaints....i did, and, after going through ba's forums, it seems like the one's who like the new format are in a minority.
                                                                              I also wonder how many of you are having a hard time actually reading it...I'm not old, nor have impaired vision or a learning disorder, but when i read the "new" mag, i have to re-read what i've read several times to comprehend..i don't know if it's the white print on images, the mix font style, or what, but the new mag is very hard for me to literally read.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: sixelagogo

                                                                                Yes! I'm too young to need bifocals, and I resent having to squint at my pleasure reading. It's not about the language, which, if anything, could benefit from a little more complexity -- just that typeface!

                                                                              2. Well I have written to BA to tell them that their new format is disappointing. I tried to stay away from criticizing the physical change because that's just a red herring so to speak. I focused more on them dumbing things down and using recipes made with pre-made pancake mix. I also included a link to this thread so they could see for themselves what people are saying (although they are probably aware anyway.
                                                                                Share your thoughts with them people!!! Maybe they will listen!

                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                1. re: HungryRubia

                                                                                  I've also written to them. Besides mentioning many of the issues brought up here, I also asked them to refrain, please, from including stinky perfume ads; some folks are allergic to those things!

                                                                                  I've got a year to get used to the new BA, since I renewed my subscription before I saw the January or February issues (would I have renewed if I'd seen February? I dunno!). Maybe they'll take constructive criticism into account and find their footing with the new format.

                                                                                  1. re: BethC

                                                                                    re: the stinky perfume ads - I believe you have to call C/S with each magazine to get a "non-stinky" version of the magazine. I did that long ago with all of my magazines, and haven't had them reappear.

                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                      Thanks for that tip. I think that's my number one pet peeve with cooking magazines - the stinky perfume ads.

                                                                                      1. re: jennywinker

                                                                                        OT to the OP, but to add to that, for a while the mags came with some big cat food ad in them that was super thick....keeping me from laying my mags out flat if i was cooking something from them(never mind that cat food ads gross me out....but that's another topic)

                                                                                        1. re: jennywinker

                                                                                          Funny, this got me thinking and I realize that I haven't received a magazine with a stinky perfume ad for years. Is it a regional thing? Zoning? Don't tell me it's an only-in-Berkeley law.

                                                                                  2. I subscribed for years in the past but hadn't taken Bon Appetit or any other food magazine for the last few years. I saw a $10 subscription offered on Amazon back in Dec so decided I'd try it again, not realizing how much it had changed.

                                                                                    The pancake issue was the first one I received. I was really disappointed the content but thought maybe it was an off issue. Then the sandwich one arrived last week and again I was really disappointed.

                                                                                    I canceled my subscription this week and got my money back. I think I'll get Fine Cooking instead. I've been buying that off the newstand the last few months and have made several recipes out of the issues I've bought. Seems to be a good alternative.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: ziggylu

                                                                                      My March issue has arrived, very thin.... the only "meat" is on the cover. I wonder how long this magazine will last in a VERY competitive market. Even though Gourmet and Food&Wine are also loaded with ads, there's a lot more in the "well" too. Their renewal invoice is sitting on my desk at the moment, and I am tempted to let this one lapse.

                                                                                    2. I wrote an open letter to Bon Appetit on this very topic. I'm glad they're switching it up, but I think they need to rethink!

                                                                                      1. I like the new lighter look and I like including articles from bloggers like the Chocolate and Zucchini woman. I agree that the section in the back is laughable -- how to get the meat out of an avocado? Please.
                                                                                        But the truth is that the core of experienced cooks in this country is fast shrinking. They didn't "dumb down" the magazine just to vex longtime readers, they did it to try and appeal to younger cooks, many of whom didn't learn to cook from their mothers. If you were editor, would you rather appeal to a very niche audience of skilled home cooks, or a much wider audience of people who would like to learn more about cooking?

                                                                                        1. as a graphic designer, I naturally hated the re-design immediately, because it actually did look good, and I admired the work and wish I had done it. so I ignored the first few issues but finally read the latest one, on TRAVEL, and I have to admit, I think they've not only sharpened the look of the magazine but also the tone. the magazine flows very well from start to finish and I found there was depth in the articles, as well as plenty (maybe even more) recipes than before. I think they've finally got things worked out and definitely some editorial and creative unity has started to gel. I still prefer saveur and cooks illustrated but definitely enjoying the new look (finally). and, food & wine is terrible; just never liked it.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: bigjeff

                                                                                            OK I take it back. just read the June 2008 issue (sour cherry pie on the cover). it is really garbage. damn. no recipes of substance, the mississippi delta travel feature was incomprehensible and so so thin with content.

                                                                                          2. I also hate to admit it, but the last issue was an improvement. perhaps they've been listening.

                                                                                            1. I have the May issue..hate it, like I hated April, Feb and Jan. The typeface is too small. BA if you have taken notice, it is hard to read "Songs for a Plane Ride" ity bity type! And it too light! (and also check out the travel articale why are all the cities and pages listed in micro type face....it's so small, why did you bother addidng it in??And why do all the articles have to start on the left side now?? Isnt that a ploy of cheaper magazines ie redbook and the sort?? Come on, you don't have to change back but please improve.

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: energy

                                                                                                I gotta say that I'm still not impressed with the new BA. One of the problems that I'm having is the huge chunk of "advertisements" that are camouflaged as recipes and articles. It's frustrating and feels really cheap to me. I won't be renewing this subscription.

                                                                                                And maybe I'm in the minority, but I am getting really tired of the giant close-up photos. It may have been hip and innovative the first time they did it, but it's gotten really old really fast for me. Again, maybe I'm not hip and graphic, but I just don't like it. Hmph.

                                                                                                1. re: bards4

                                                                                                  I've never been a big fan of the May issue of BA -- the single focus didn't interest me. I'm still not a fan of the new format, but I have to admit that the May issue is better than usual, IMO at least.

                                                                                                  1. re: bards4

                                                                                                    Sadly, those special 'advertisement sections' seem to be invading all magazines, not just BA.
                                                                                                    At least you could use the stupid subscription cards as bookmarks or just throw them away; you're stuck with the 5+ page ad spreads.

                                                                                                2. Ooh. So sad. I have tons of back issues, including some much older ones, and have always enjoyed BA. Over the years I have learned a lot from this magazine. After seeing what has become of my once favorite go-to magazine, I am going to let my subscription expire. Maybe next time they decide to "re-vamp" BA, they will have some consideration for readers who already know how to peel a banana and boil water. (Not meaning that in a snooty way... ;)

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: Mothership

                                                                                                    Count me as another one mourning the loss of BA. I've been a subscriber since 1991 -- I still have every one of the issues! In that time there have been a number of revamps of the magazine, some of which were hard to adjust to at first, but eventually I saw that they did add value. Not this time. It seems that every feature that I really loved about BA is either gone or a pale reflection of its former self. The font is painful to read. Most of the "articles" are actually advertisements. The photos are unappetizing -- I remember when the cover photo would make me want to open to that recipe and start cooking -- now the cover photos make me want to gag. My subscription ends in June and so does my 17 year association with BA. For the first time ever, I will not be renewing. It feels like an old friend has died.

                                                                                                  2. Have been a subscriber since 1982!!! Have every issue and I just wrote to them, for the second time, about the font size and the ink color in the August issue which I just received. I wrote before and the assistant to the editor in chief wrote back saying that yes, they had noticed that the font was too small and that they were correcting it as of the June issue. I did not see a big change and now it looks even worse, the ink is very light on some of the pages and they keep mixing fonts. I have written again directly to the editor in chief and will see what she says. I am tempted to cancel my subscription also because the recipes are not special anymore. I don't mind if I have to cook for a couple of hours for a great meal and do miss the Entertaining in Style section. You would think that Barbara Fairchild might have been there too long and they need a new editor in chief. I think she's paying too much attention to other things she does and not enough attention to the magazine.

                                                                                                    1. Well I was very disappointed in the recent August issue.
                                                                                                      Becuase I have old copies, and since I've been a subscriber forever, I decided to check out past issues. I couldn't find my Aug issue 96, I have it somewhere, but I did find the June 06 and did a quick comparison first with the recipe indexes. Ha!
                                                                                                      First of all what is my major complaint, is recipe content and the lack there of.
                                                                                                      The older BA has a total of 100 recipes this latest issue only 55. I may not be EXACT but close enough for a quick tally and eyeballing the recipes. Also, close enough that I wasn't just thinking the recipes are disappering but the ones they're printing are sure sounding familiar.
                                                                                                      The second major complaint, the photography was so awful.
                                                                                                      Ok just so you know I am aware that no one is perfect. I have a copy of an older BA that has a thumb print in the ice cream in a front cover shot. That little mistake never really bothered me, but what bothers me are deliberate attempts to be cutting edge and cute and they fail.

                                                                                                      There is a place when a photo of a messy table is appropriate, these pages seemed out of place. The Tuscany piece was done, and was meant to inspire us to grill food their way using lamb, or potatoes. Not the usual bbq fare. But to purposely make it look messy or the plate unclean. Yikes. The table display on pg 103, the choice of lamb slices the stylist uses is really so unappealing, the meat looks torn and so so dry, it all looks dry.
                                                                                                      Then the ice cream pages..
                                                                                                      Enough of the amoretti cookie crumbs and wrappers! Why did they use that shot of ice cream scoops melting and then following with messy, messy shots, bad idea.

                                                                                                      Strangely enough when looking at the 96 BA, I happened upon a past article with recipes by Jeanne Thiel Kelley a cookbook author whom was published this month. I think this month's shot of her party/food were pretty boring unexciting. Not even good photography. But then again so were the recipes. I will not buy one more magazine that is going to charge me a high price for crostini recipes. For someone that claims to use her garden for fresh ingredients, I have to wonder why she couldn't do better with her menu.

                                                                                                      Another gripe is all the white space on the pages. Whomever is doing the layout, is missing something the stark look is not appealing when you're doing a magazine that is selling itself with its content relying on well written material with reliable and different reicpes, and also making sure to have beautifully photographed page of delicious appetizing food.
                                                                                                      There seems to be filler content that is thrown in to fill spaces that normally should have recipes or ideas.

                                                                                                      Do the people at BA really think that we need to learn how to get corn from a cob?
                                                                                                      Or a half page filled with a less than good drawing of a food slicer, slicing what looks like a tongue, but it is really a zucchini?
                                                                                                      The font is so teensy tiny. Oh thank you, you wrote "SMASH" in 36 font size, so that I can read how to take out an olive pit.

                                                                                                      This month's magazie hopelessly fell flat. All I can think is that everyone was on vacation, and that some people missed their deadlines.

                                                                                                      I sure hope it gets better, or I'm leaving. For now, at least I have my library full of years and years of Bon Appetit and Gourmet magazines.There are enough there to keep me busy for some time. And this is exactly why I won't toss them out.

                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                        Talk about a major shock and disappointment! I used to love the magazine and actually learn something from it. It is now embarassing, dumbed down, cheap, thin, chock full of ads and not in the least interesting. I do not mind change, but this magazine now is in an entirely different league.

                                                                                                        When my subscription runs out in a couple of months I for one will not renew (unless they decide to return to the old format). Terribly, terribly disappointing. Thankfully I, too, have a vast library of BA and Gourmet from previous years that actually have some sort of content and holds my interest for more than 7 minutes.

                                                                                                        1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                          I think I've finally had it with them. Got back from vacation and saw the ice cream cover. Great! Maybe something new to really knock out my guests next week, right? Um, guys, recipe after recipe telling me to buy coconut/strawberry/whatever flavor ice cream and stuff it between slice and bake c.c./oatmeal/whatever cookie IS NOT COOKING!!!! I don't need a magazine to tell me to go to the store and buy $5 a pint ice cream and call it dessert.

                                                                                                          1. re: rockycat

                                                                                                            I have been with them for a long-long time, and I've put up with different annoying practices for years. Such as, oodles of advertisements, blank subscription cards falling out all over the place (great bookmarks) heavily scented tear-aways (during my migraine years, this was more than annoying) that lingered on my hands for hours, bank card offers in the middle of it all, etc.

                                                                                                            But even with all the pesky stuff there still was good content.Content that helped me to learn how to cook, It was jammed packed with tons of exciting new and different ethnic menus! Then there were the travel pieces with gorgeous photography and helpful info for travelers both internationational and domestic! Every month I couldn't wait to get my copy! I would wait until the kids were asleep, and no one was around and I could read the magazine without interruptions, it was my little treat to myself.

                                                                                                            The ice cream cover. It does look great, chocolate cover cherries comes to mind. What a let down! When I came to the piece on ice cream at least I thought (at first) well the shot looks bad, but lets see what exciting things they're doing with ice cream, maybe there is a recipe I can use. . There was nothing in that piece for me to read about at all. Do you realize they wasted 8 pages on telling the reader to go to the store and buy ice cream? How's that for a sneaky advertisement?

                                                                                                            Maybe the younger generation is thinking this mag is terrific, and perhaps that is the new demographic for BA, but if you ask me, they are insulting new cooks. I have no idea how much control Barbara Fairchild has over this magazine. But I would hope she is as disappointed as the rest of us in the past issue and does some damage control.

                                                                                                            Sadly, this magazine just isn't suitable for me anymore.

                                                                                                          2. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                            take it from a food stylist- the messy look is huge right now in editorial outlets. we'll be seeing it for a while longer

                                                                                                            1. re: charlottecooks

                                                                                                              Messy or tables that have been dined at and wrappers and garbage left on? Rustic food or meals casually set with perhaps a bite or two taken out, silverware resting on the plate turned over lazily, is cool. I do, I love the dripping chocolate on the cover of BA, and as an amateur photographer (very amateur), I would love that kind of shot, it's very sexy. Or when sauces ooze, or they lap up against the food sort of silky like, I like that too. But my gosh, that photo of the layout on the piece, Tuscany on the Grill, the lamb on the dinner plate looks like someone spit it out after chewing it. Disgusting!
                                                                                                              But thank you cc for enlightening me so that I don't think they are being careless, I guess I feel better knowing that they did that on purpose!

                                                                                                              1. re: charlottecooks

                                                                                                                Curious as to why. Is it supposed to look like it's more "home cooked"?

                                                                                                            2. I have not subscribed in years but will buy off the newsstand if the issue looks promising. I am very disappointed in their "new" version....actually I like the visual design of it and think it looks nice. What I dislike is how there is no substance in the content. I have purchased a few copies since the new year and find that I am not learning a single thing except that I am pretty much done with BA.

                                                                                                              1. Man, I withheld judgment for the first 6 months or so, but my jury-of-one is in: the graphic re-design is a trainwreck and the discernible drop in quality — both in terms of content and print production (not sure whether this is an issue of paper stock, ink or something else, but am I the only one who's noticed an alarming uptick in print bleeds since the switch?) — is dismaying to say the least. Barbara Fairchild should be ashamed.

                                                                                                                The worst news is that I got a free extra year tacked on to my subscription as part of a promotion from Sur la Table. Wish it could've been Gourmet or F&W instead.

                                                                                                                1. I waited to pass judgment too, hoping to get used to it... but I just can't.

                                                                                                                  My beloved BA is just plain ugly now... The photos of beautiful food and tables are gone, replaced by half eaten plates and empty glasses on messy tables with what's left of the food. And that is GROSS. The food stylists must hate having to make food look like that - when they are used to making food look beautiful. What happened to the saying, "You dine with your eyes first".

                                                                                                                  The recipes in black text on a white page do not inspire me to plan beautiful dinner parties. I think the small text for the titles of articles is unnoticable. I'm also not crazy about the all lower case for the titles.

                                                                                                                  The photos of food with one stark light source and long shadows makes it look cheap. There's no depth of field in the photos and the messy food is entirely unappetizing. Like the ice cream issue... a baking tray full of scoops of icecream set on a solid color background and allowed to melt... not yummy, not original. And 2nd grader drawings of food is unforgivable. Have all the food photographers died off???

                                                                                                                  I have been going through all my back issues ripping out all the recipes and pictures that I like... and I realize how beautiful and elegant the photos and food in BA used to be. I almost wish I had kept all the issues as is... since I won't be renewing my subscription... I too HATE the new BA.

                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: flyingcow

                                                                                                                    I know exactly what you mean. It is so sad - BA used to be my beloved magazine that I literally ran to the mailbox to see whether it had arrived. Now I practically drag my feet to get it. I emailed BA to tell them how disappointed I am and definitely will not be renewing, either.

                                                                                                                    Those drawings are horrific! I would be so embarassed to print that magazine. I was wondering the same thing - did all the photographers take a leave of absence at the same time? What is going on exactly?

                                                                                                                    Very little content, poor embarassing drawings, less challenging, nothing new. Blech.

                                                                                                                    1. re: chefathome

                                                                                                                      i was VERY surprised that there was not ONE recipe for homemade icecream-I agree what a ripoff

                                                                                                                      I got this sub free from Amazon and will NOT renew either.

                                                                                                                    2. re: flyingcow

                                                                                                                      No all the food photographers haven't died off, BA just doesn't care to use them anymore. They would rather feature drawings than food spreads. You can thank the new art director for the direction the magazine is going in.

                                                                                                                    3. Interestingly the managing editor Laurie Buckle left Bon Appetit in April: This from mediabistro:
                                                                                                                      "Laurie Buckle, who recently left her position as managing editor at Bon Appétit to take over the top spot at Fine Cooking, told us over the phone earlier today that she jumped ship (from sunny So Cal to CT.) because food magazines have lost their focus. "[Fewer and fewer] food magazines are about cooking," she said. "They are about lifestyle," citing Bon Appétit, Rachael Ray and Paula Deen as examples that "speak to a larger lifestyle.

                                                                                                                      "I see food and cooking as a key element to a well-lived life," the new editor told us. "Everybody's a foodie."

                                                                                                                      The worst part about her cross-country move? Not having easy access to her cooking supplies in her new condo."

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: Fuser

                                                                                                                        And therefore we lose the risk of developing future good cooks! So lovely, now we've managed to backstep to the fifties by urging our readers to purchase premade food goods again. And the names she mentions, RR and PD, they sell premade food stuff.

                                                                                                                        With all the attention that the FN gave to Barbara Fairchild, I feel there is more to the story than what Ms.Buckle claims. It's not every food magazine changing their focus. It's just BA that has lost its focus. How crappy that she feels she should drag other magazines into their mess.
                                                                                                                        If they post one recipe in BA using canned soup........I'll... I'll do a back flip.

                                                                                                                      2. Barbara Fairchild has been under the gun to change Bon Appetit. I'd imagine to become different than Gourment. In doing so she has hired a new art director that doesn't have any sort of experience with food magazines. His previous junior art direction positions was at GQ. (info found on MySpace) Of which required very little art, being more celebrity driven. Point is the art dept now is lead by persons not qualified to treat it like a food magazine. Its like having a veterinarian design a building. Well educated, but wrong application. At times the images of food looked like it belonged in Wired, Pop Sci, Maxxium, GQ, and Esquire. I think its slowly becoming a blog. There is no passion of the food. I think the magazine is due for another redo by the end of this year otherwise I'm sure it will fad away as an insert for the LA Weekly.
                                                                                                                        Poor leadership is just as it sounds. Problems from the top, down. And consumers end up with an inferior product choice.

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. re: redpinto

                                                                                                                          You are very right redpinto, the new art director is the one you can all thank for the changes at BA. Everyone from the "old" BA is being let go or leaving slowly...the photo editor left not too long ago. I wouldn't expect a change for the better anytime soon...unless subscribers can all get together and make their voices heard.

                                                                                                                        2. I'm glad to see I'm not alone.

                                                                                                                          Ugh! I just got my free Bon Appetit in the mail, and I couldn't look at it without getting queasy. Seriously! Pearl onions that look as slimy as fish eyeballs. A hunk of meat (I think it was ham) hanging in a net, with a stark, white background. A minimalistic Thanksgiving setting (again, with the white background), with all the food appearing cold - no steam arising, turkey juice oozing, gravy pouring beside heaping, hearty portions of stuffing, mashed potatoes... No! It was a meal only a Gulag escapey might consider eating (and I emphasize "might").

                                                                                                                          The magazine's new look doesn't make me drool or inspire me to create the enclosed recipes. The new look makes me shiver. When I open the pages I almost hear the echos of some industrial institution hallways during of Russia during the cold war. Why do I picture the art director wearing an eye patch and carrying a whip?

                                                                                                                          In short, Bon Appetit's new look is unappetizing and creepy.

                                                                                                                          As for the content, I think Bon Appetit assumes we all have tiny attention spans and too little intelligence to take time to read quality writing. Why else have the pages been blog-ized. I love blogs, but when I want to sink into my sofa to let my mind travel and my mouth water, I need something more.

                                                                                                                          I am going to give Barbara Fairchild a piece of my mind.

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. re: mehungry

                                                                                                                            Here is Barbara Fairchild's email in case any of you want to write to her BFairchi@condenast.com The font and the colors are still terrible, not to mention the content. I dont think I will renew.