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Jul 21, 2008 09:09 AM

Magazine Differences: Gourmet, Bon Appeitit, Food&Wine

What are they?

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  1. Minimal,after a poll among the foodies and winos I know,GOURMET had a clear lead.
    Among the student types and mostly for travel,no winner emerged.This will sound crass,but most of the answers leaned hard on price,swap,share, and
    other free access.

    1. The people featured in the lawn party photos in Bon Appetitit are more attractive than the people shown in Food & Wine. The Gourmet magazine people appear to be mannequins. Saveur's people seem real and actually might be.

      1. Food & Wine is about food cooked by famous people. Gourmet is for the aspirational cook, somebody that really does like devoting most of a weekend to cooking something ambitious. Bon Appetit is for a reader that wants to cook something good, but is bound to chuck the magazine in a corner if anything gets too unfamiliar or too complicated. And Cooks Illustrated is the Cooking for Dummies of the foodmag world, recipes for the reader who finds Joy too hard of a slog.

        3 Replies
        1. re: condiment

          I think you're missing out on the finer points of Cook's Illustrated. Yes, it has detailed illustrations and instructions, but its not designed that way to accomodate illiterate bachelors who are only familiar with frozen entrees. Its because they want to create the perfect recipe- One that is scientific in it's repeatability and faultless in outcmoe.And for the people at ATK, this recipe usually time consuming and very specific. Beyond that, CI's spends a lot of time talking about the process of discovering the recipe. It's very much about the science and art of cooking.

          1. re: lreeve

            Cook's is a great place for bright,literate,9-14 year olds.When the grand kids want to cook,more often than not I send them there for translation.
            Many of my sources use terms just past the edge of entry level and further
            Anything that gets the food from the garden etc to the table with independence for them is a huge plus.

            1. re: lreeve

              I find the magazine infuriating. A writer who seems to have never cooked a flank steak, for example, reads a few recipes for flank steak, makes a few arbitrary assumptions about what a flank steak should be, and then cooks flank steak a dozen or two dozen different ways, one of which is deemed: The way to cook flank steak. It's like something out of high-school chemistry class, and not AP chemistry either, written with all the flair of Consumer Reports. The bright, literate 9-14 year old does seem like the ideal target for the magazine...

          2. I will try not to pigeonhole people based on their favorite cooking magazine. I had many of these magazines from time to time. I subscribed to Bon Appetit for many years, and found a lot of their recipes very good, and I still keep my probably 100+ volume collection. Some recipes are rather complicated, but I attempted them.

            I got Gourmet and Food & Wine free when I made purchases at Sur La Table. I don't like either of them enough to even bother renewing. Food & Wine does seem to be more celebrity chef focused (probably explains the tie-in to Top Chef), and the wine articles are the only thing that is of interest to me. I suspect the hardcore wine connoisseurs will prefer a more dedicated serious wine magazine instead.

            I also had Travel & Leisure free (can't remember why) but it really only minimally touches on food.

            Lastly, I must defend Cook's Illustrated. I cooked for many years, and yet I found their explanation of their trials & errors to be interesting. I don't know if the recipe testers are experienced cooks or not, but they did seem to do good research and have a methodological way of investigation. So I appreciate that they took the time to try out 50 different methods and tell me which one actually worked. My husband and I hardly fall into their '9-14' year old target audience or cooking for dummies. I had a 20 year old copy of falling apart Joy of Cooking that's a cooking reference bible (though I never find any of the recipes in there that aspiring).

            I recently picked up their Cook's Illustrated American Classics issue and the explanation for the need of multiple cheeses for mac & cheese makes sense (given my past history and bad results with plain cheddar), and their recommended french fry method also makes a lot of sense. I want to try their biscuit recipe this weekend to see if I can get good results, as in the past I tend to muck with the dough too much rolling them.

            1 Reply
            1. re: notmartha

              I liken Cook's Illustrated to a cooks version of "Consumer Reports". I like when they do blind comparisons on equipment or food. They have some great tips. Yes, it is a little like a science report but I always learn something. It's Chris Kimball I find annoying but that's more on tv than the magazine.
              Bon Apetit recently went through a redesign and I must say I don't care for it. The photographs tend to be kind of small now which doesn't work in a food magazine.

            2. I love food magazines. I have, from time to time, bought and/or subscribed to most of them. I thought Gourmet was really good under its original publisher, but has gone down hill since then (1984). I really liked Cook's Illustrated (and Cook's, its sort of predecessor), but stopped subscribing to the monthly magazine because I buy the annual bound edition. I like the illustrations. I enjoy the "back-to-the-basics" feel of it (If that makes me an "idiot," I plead guilty). I have been subscribing to Bon Appetit for several years, but will let my present subscription when it runs out at the end of the year. I subscribed for several years to Food & Wine, but have never thought it provided enough stories or recipes that I found useful. My current favorites are Saveur and Fine Cooking. I liked Kitchen Gardener until it quit in the U.S.. I was a fan of Chocolatier magazine, but it is struggling and may not survive. I liked Cuisine until it merged itself out of business. Chile Pepper is still good. I never liked Kitchen & Cook (from the CIA). I did not like Pastry ert & Design (way above my pay level). You will notice that I used the word "I" repeatedly. That's because they expressed my changing tastes from time to time. They're personal choices. I don't expect you to agree with them, and I won't judge you for either agreeing or disagreeing. We don't all have to agree. That's why they make red wagons and green wagons.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Potomac Bob

                I subscribe to all these publications, as well as "Eating Well" and "Cooking LIght". Each one has its own vibe, and I tend to read 2-3 of them at a sitting to enjoy the contrasts. Gourmet is the grand dame of them all, IMHO, as it seems to have been around the longest. It has evolved from the exotic and intricate "foo foo" nature of the 60s and 70s (when I first started reading it while babysitting for my neighbors) and seems more user friendly these days. It has always been about travel and new flavors. Bon Appetit is also evolving, and this year has been very transitional for them. It was a different book back in the 90s when Polly Perkins was at the helm. Food & Wine (a companion publication to Travel & Leisure) seems to be 90% advertising/10% food (no surprise, since it is -- or at least used to be -- put out by the American Express folks). I enjoy its stories on wine, and find it more educational and less pretentious than Wine Spectator. Recently I have become more and more fond of Saveur ... the beautiful pictures, the "theme" issues, etc. It is thin (ergo, minimal advertising) and rich with well written stories and recipes worth saving.