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Aug 18, 2009 10:47 AM

The Gourmet Magazine redesign is terrible!

Yesterday my September issue of Gourmet arrived in my mailbox. Every month I anticipate trolling through the recipes, oggling the table settings and savoring the stories. This month, Gourmet has rolled out an absolutely ghastly re-design (again). The table of contents is nearly illegible, the stories laid out in a non-intuitive way and their page lay out is all wrong. For example in the "alphabetical recipe" story, the titles of each recipe are pushed all the way to the tippy top of the page, with a large, unattractive gap between the title and the recipe. The recipes looked ok, but I was so distracted by the page lay out that I barely got halfway through. If I recall, about a year or two ago, Gourmet re-designed the magazine and suffered through several uninspired covers and stories. It had looked like it turned the corner, but this month's ultra close up of a quince on the cover is boring, bland and not the food porn I have grown accustomed to. I know Conde Nast and the magazine industry as a whole is suffering, but this issue makes it look like Gourmet's editors are scuttling their own ship!

Does anyone else hate it or *gasp* like it?

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  1. I cannot figure out their "A-Z" logic! Does "crispy" qualify as a "C"??? This magazine is getting loonier and loonier.

    1. I stopped reading it after Ruth Reichl initiated that major redesign about 6 years ago--the old Gourmets edited by Zweigenthal I still have on hand, and refer to them frequently. It's truly a shame what "fab" stylists did to this publication.

      6 Replies
      1. re: penthouse pup archives recipes from 'Gourmet' and other publications. It's easy to search for recipes you like w/out the distraction of design you hate.

        1. re: ClaireWalter

          It is more a matter of the articles and who wrote them: in the past, the writers were first rate (and not necessarily "food writers"--the essays offered all sorts of insights and
          information and perspective. I use as do you, but it's not the same thing.
          I literally have decades of old Gourmets--and I bet some people on this board do, too...

          1. re: penthouse pup

            I just got rid of 23 years of Gourmet. I had to - they were stacked to the ceiling, and my shelves were at their limit. And I have allergies, so they had to go. The essays used to be so good - I used to anticipate Laurie Colwin's articles all month long......

            1. re: jeanmarieok

              Ooooh jeanmarieok: How brave and mature you must be! As I type, I'm looking at the shelves of Gourmet's past issues. I keep telling myself I'll take them to the local Friends of the Oakland Library and finally be rid of them. Yet there they sit in their cardboard holders which I bought and put together about 6 years ago.

              After reading your message, I feel as if I finally have the strength of mind and body to haul them away.

              I stopped subscribing to Gourmet a couple of years ago because I couldn't stand the layout and the overly "chic" photos. The whole ambiance of luxury made me cringe. Page after page of $10,000 watches, etc. I think they finally took out the scent packets that used to come with the mag. Nothing like reading a recipe for daube de boeuf and smelling strong perfume wafting up your nose.

              1. re: oakjoan

                Oakjoan, before you get rid of them, type the names of any recipes you love into's search engine and see if they're there before you give up the magazines. Despite what people say, not every Bon Appetit and Gourmet recipe is there, so you'll need to selectively clip/photocopy fave recipes and articles.

              2. re: jeanmarieok

                Laurie Colwin, Fred Ferretti, the Sterns, heck, even David Rosengarten on occasion. I really hate it when someone comes into a perfectly fine situation and has to "improve" it, like Reichl felt impelled to do. We cancelled our subscription shortly after she took over.

        2. I'd had a bit too much wine last night, and thumbed thru the magazine, and made fun of it the whole way through. It was no better this morning, when my head was clear. What were they thinking? I don't cook much from Gourmet, but I really liked the writing. They got rid of that, and the silly A - Z stuff is just embarrassing for them.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jeanmarieok

            Is it possible to have too much wine? In any case, wasn't the Gourmet cookbook a few year's ago a disaster with the color of the yellow text and font? Also, I might be in the minority, but I've never really liked Gourmet or understood the allure of Reichl. For some odd reason, she seems to hold some sort of esteem in the culinary and editorial world yet I've never understood her qualifications or writing to be anything special.

            Nonetheless, so many of the major publications like Wine Spectator and Saveur are full of advertising and annoying postcard subscription forms rather than quality articles! Then they wonder why subscriptions are down?

          2. My take, in glancing through this issue, is that it's Ruth's homage to back-to-schoolism. All recipes, arranged in her flight of fantasy alphabet. No real articles to speak of, those sullen "models" (as in past months, years?). Hope this issue is a one-month aberration.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Sarah

              Don't even get me started on the "models"...I'm here for the food, I don't need to see skinny, dead-eyed hipsters pretending to eat or frolick with bowls of pasta through a field.

              Also, they've used the SAME kitschy table decor for the last 4 or five issues. Enough with the kotchkies!

              1. re: Flaxen_Vixen

                Uggh-the models.....Almost every spread in the last couple of years has models posing ridiculously. I do not want to see models in a food magazine-If I want to see models, I'll read Vogue. They also only seem to use younger models-it is so unrealistic. And don't get me started on the recipes that were part of this gimmicky A-Z concept. I think I can count a total of 2 that seemed in any way appealing.

              2. re: Sarah

                What models? There were models? All I noticed were the awful, fuzzy, too-close-up shots of food (e.g., the tomato innards). But I did like the cover photo - not from a food standpoint (quince is over-rated), but from color/texture/composition/lighting standpoints.

                Some of the recipes were surprisingly interesting - I tore out four pages, when I usually don't save any.

                Ruth isn't always interesting, but she's a lot better editorial writer than Dana Colwin of F&W. Her stories of her mom are hilarious because my mom was like that, too. Perhaps Ruth and I were twins separated at birth, except that I'm short and fat...

              3. Finally this new copy arrived at My mailbox... and I have to say I rather like it. The first thing I noticed, though, is the quality of the paper. It seems to be flimsier than in the past. The table of contents is printed in very light grey making almost impossible to read against the white paper. Don't know what they had in mind with that decision. As for the recipe pages I think the photography is quite nice and having one recipe on a page is good since I like to keep certain recipes on file in their own sleeve, now I don't have to cut and paste. I am wondering if the alphabet will be continued in each issue. Can't you see an editorial meeting where the discussion is centered on, "Now what do we have for Q?".

                1 Reply
                1. re: Gio

                  If you read the editors letter, it says that this is just one issue using the alphabet idea, and they did it in september to tie in with all the amazing produce available.
                  The issue is called "A Cook's Alphabet, Seasonal Recipes from A to Z". On the inside it is called a "special issue".
                  It doesn't seem that they have any intention of continuing it in further issues. They did have fun coming up with some alliterative menus!