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Bon Appetit Magazine Going Totally Downhill

As a long time subscriber, I just received my October 2011 issue of Bon Appetit yesterday. It's been going downhill for awhile, but I was shocked to see the number of advertisements in this issue - most not even food related - it was quite shocking. A little BA content on the left page and then ads on the right page in almost the entire issue! What BA content that was there was totally boring and I was done with it in 10 minutes or so. My subscription was just renewed as a gift, but if this keeps up I will not be renewing it again! Has anyone else noted that it looks more like GQ magazine now that a food magazine. Food & Wine and Fine Cooking are far superior!

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  1. This is interesting because I find myself thinking how much I like the new format and articles, but maybe i'm a different demographic because I subscribe to GQ too...I think I read somewhere that they recently switched headquarters from South Carolina to NYC, so maybe it's some regional preferences.

    3 Replies
    1. re: MinhLikesFood

      I didn't hate the last two or three magazines from Bon Appetit - I think it's improved a bit over earlier in the year. Better stories, and better monthly columns, but you are correct, there is more advertising.

      1. re: MinhLikesFood

        BA was headquartered in LA and is now with the rest of the Conde Nast stable in NY. And if it reminds readers of GQ, perhaps that's to do with the fact that its new editor in chief was formerly an editor at GQ.

        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

          I have to say, the fact that BA is starting to look more and more like my husband's GQ is what annoys me the most. The actual recipes aren't bad, but there are fewer, and they are getting harder to find amidst all the "fluff." KInda like actual fashion articles in the current GQ.

      2. I have some old copies of BA. Most of the ads, especially the big page ones, were for cigs and liquors.

        1. I got mine too, and it didn't take me long to go through it. I've been a long time subscriber, and have noticed a bit less content. My long time favorite has been Fine Cooking, but I do get quite a few cooking mags each month just because. I'm waiting for the Nov and Dec BA to maybe pick it up a bit.

          1. I never thought that BA's content was close to Gourmet's nor Saveur's in quality and quantity, but their photography used to be awful, and now it's much better (more interestingly composed and lit).

            1. Sadly I must agree - got my October BA this week and I thought I was reading my girlfriend's Real Simple mag instead. The "Tapas 2.0" article was OK (although the "great tapas/pintxos discoveries in Spain" theme has been exploited and beaten to death for years now), the rest was very "meh".

              Real glad I subscribed to Lucky Peach though - got the initial issue a few weeks back (I think it initially came out in May or June) and I'm still reading through it.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Voidsinger

                Agree about Lucky Peach, it arrived on the scene just in the nick of time! Too many foods mags have truly gone haywire.

                1. re: HillJ

                  I'm going to echo these sentiments. Love Lucky Peach. When is volume II coming out?

              2. I'm still angrier than I can say in a public place about Gourmet getting killed off instead of this thing, but the depths to which it has sunk were brought home when I got a link to a panel survey they'd done on Best Bacon. Every one in the top finishers was a supermarket bacon; none was a proper dry-cured, except that they did apparently try Niman Ranch and found it wanting (and I sorrowfully agree). But this struck me as surveying an array of Fords, Chevrolets, Toyotas and Chryslers in an attempt to determine the World's Best Car.

                7 Replies
                1. re: Will Owen

                  Is there a nationally distributed 'proper dry-cured' bacon?

                  1. re: paulj

                    "Distributed", I doubt it. "Available" is plenty for me. There was at least one bacon in the BA thing that I'd never seen nor heard of, though, so I didn't think that was a criterion. And I saw no mention of Nueske's, which though wet-cured and ungodly expensive is really delicious, and distributed nationally - or so I'd assume, as it's from Wisconsin (I think) and sold widely here in the Los Angeles area.

                    But here's the thing: Bon Appetit is supposed to be aimed at a more adventurous eater and cook than Family Circle, right? And should such a person not be ready to go to his or her computer and place an order for bacon on, say, Broadbent's website, if a better-than-common product is available there? But if the magazine is meant for people whose idea of "fancy" groceries is shopping at Trader Joe's, then it's gone culturally bankrupt and who needs it?

                    1. re: Will Owen

                      " But if the magazine is meant for people whose idea of "fancy" groceries is shopping at Trader Joe's, then it's gone culturally bankrupt and who needs it?"

                      Are you implying that I should subscribe to it?

                      The shipping costs of places like Broadbents and Anson Mills make me wince. I don't mind paying these kind of $/lb prices for small, experimental quantities from local stores, but ordering food like this is outside of my budget. I am thankful for the 'fancy' groceries that TJs puts in my reach.

                      1. re: paulj

                        paulj - I couldn't agree more. I spend quite a bit of our monthly income on quality food - but I almost never order anything - the shipping costs are just a deal breaker and budget buster.

                        1. re: flourgirl

                          flourgirl, I agree that shipping costs for food can be ridiculous, especially if you order through Amazon. However, the Nueske's bacon I referenced is about $8/lb. at our local Gelson's market, but a 5 lb. slab of Broadbent's, with shipping, works out to around $6.40/lb. Still not dirt cheap, but for the best I've ever had it'll do.

                      2. re: Will Owen

                        FWIW, I live in Ohio and have never seen Nueske's anywhere here.

                    2. re: Will Owen

                      My heart still breaks thinking about how mediocre BA was kept alive whilst the hacked off Gourmet at the beginning of a burgeoning foodie revolution.

                    3. "Has anyone else noted that it looks more like GQ magazine now that a food magazine."

                      My last issue, which was also my first issue of a new subscription, had a perfume or cologne sample in it. I threw it out without even bringing it in, and wrote "PLEASE CANCEL" on my bill.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Jay F

                        Jay, I am so with you on the perfume ads. I was reading the magazine last month and the ad for I think Calvin Klein's perfume was driving me crazy. I thought it was the candle in my living room. Then I thought it was another magazine in my magazine rack. Then I came to it in the magazine and was like WTF? How am I supposed to visualize the food being described and the recipes when I've got this musk permeating through every page.

                        1. re: Manassas64

                          I don't even bring them in the house. Straight to the trash.

                          I was able to read another issue, one with a roast something wrapped in prosciutto, that arrived more recently. I don't dislike the current iteration of BA as much as I disliked it, say, five years ago, when it seemed to be more than half advertising.

                          But the magazine is probably never going to mean as much to me as it did when I was first learning to cook in the '70s and '80s. I looked forward to each magazine, and cooked out of most of them.

                      2. while I've only been subscribing for 1 year now I like the change in format.

                        A little background info in case: I am 24, male, have cooked in restaurants, very adventurous eater

                        What I like the best is that the photography is amazing and to me that is the whole reason I read cookbooks or cooking magazines, I want to be inspired to cook and visual images are the best way to do this for me.

                        I do suppose the magazine has become a bit trendy in recent issues by trying to look cool and highlight current trends in restaurants and dining and thats not an issue with me.

                        1. I thought twice about renewing last time because of the decline in quality and content, and only did so because it's so inexpensive. But this year, no way. It's been dumbed down so much that I have to quit out of principle. It's not worth the paper to print and fuel it takes to get it here, and not worth the space in my recycle bin.

                          1. October's issue might have been worse. It could have been another homage to Gwenyth Paltrow...

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Leper

                              damn you for putting that cover and story back into my feeble brain! LOL!

                              1. re: Bellachefa

                                Didn't I read that Cheryl Crow and Eva Langoria (sp?) with their celeb cookbooks where next in the BA lineup?

                            2. Everytime I see one of the "Real Simple" 'zines, I become upset. Not for the fault of anything within, but, "Real Simple", really?

                              "Really Simple" or "Real. Simple." with the periods.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Aramek

                                A comma between the words would work, too.

                              2. No ads, no magazine.

                                Either that, or $30 cover price, and it's a book.

                                Sorry, but that's reality.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: tangovoxtrot

                                  Doesn't Gastrnomica charge $50.

                                  Also Lucky Peach cost $8 for one issue. I don't mind the ads since I just skip past them, nobody is forcing you to read them.

                                  1. re: Johnny L

                                    But if ads make up a greater percentage of the page views, where's the value? Sure ads pay but so do subscribers...and w/out interested paying subscribers what's the point?
                                    For the best of what is left to enjoy from BA, I can visit the website free of charge....which you have to wonder...if the magazine is still vital to food lovers why is BA online free.

                                  2. re: tangovoxtrot

                                    I don't really think the ads are a problem specifically. It's when the ads overwhelm, either because there's much too high a ratio of ad to content, or because the quality of content is ridiculously poor. Right now, I think BA suffers from both.

                                    +1 for Lucky Peach. I'd be WAY more pissed about the state of BA if it weren't for that. I think the immediate popularity of it proves that we are all willing to pay for quality.

                                  3. Totally agree with you, lominator! I threw the last issue across the room after reading their panang vegetable curry and panang curry paste. Not only was it boring, but it was simply wrong. Regional cuisines have never been their forte, but they could actually do their research or hire a writer who knows how to cook.

                                    It's an insult to Thai cuisine.

                                    Panang is one of the few curries that only has meat and spices. There is no such a thing as panang vegetable curry. Call it something else. After reading through their panang curry paste ingredients, I gave up. Please, no kaffir lime leaves in curry paste, whatsoever! Use the real thing, kaffir lime zest! Would you put leaves in lemon meringue pie? No, you use zest. If they are food magazine and can't do it right, they should not do it!

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: nattythecook

                                      Disagree that playing around with ingredients in a Thai curry paste is an insult to Thai cuisine. Any cuisine, IMO, should not be a museum piece stuck in time. It evolves and morphs and inspires.

                                      1. re: Jolyon Helterman

                                        Absolutely, cuisines evolve, morph and inspire but the when, where, how and by whom is more important. Thai food experts and the Thai government do not want Thai cuisine to be La Choy'ed.

                                        If you know Thai cuisine, you know that it is full of foreign ingredients and influences, so obviously there is a long history of creativity and melding.

                                        With Thai food, and any cuisine, some recipe components dishes have degrees of flexibility and some don't.

                                        What you create at home is your own business. When you're a national magazine and you simply get core cuisine components wrong, it's not acceptable to me as a reader and a Thai.

                                        If someday you visit Bangkok and are served "Boston baked beans" made with bean sprouts, would you cringe?

                                        1. re: nattythecook

                                          I'm waiting for their article on Kansas City BBQ eggplant.

                                    2. I wasn't loving the october issue - but I made the chicken pot pie and my family loved it. The crust was excellent - flaky and tender and a snap to work with.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: flourgirl

                                        flourgirl, was this the chicken pot pie recipe that your referring to?

                                        1. re: HillJ

                                          Yes, that's it. I had to stop my husband from going back for a fourth helping the night I made it.

                                          1. re: flourgirl

                                            Thanks, flourgirl. I'm going to try making it this weekend.

                                      2. I have to agree. While I've let my subscription lapse from time to time, I always ended up renewing, but no more. The number of advertisements versus actual mag content is horrendous, & they've reduced the article print size to where I need magnifying glasses to comfortably read - something that I rarely require. No thanks.

                                        1. I agree. When I heard they had appointed a new editor, I was hopeful he/she would bring some refreshing changes to the magazine. Instead, I received my June 2011 issue (the first or second issue under the new editor) and what do I see but Gwyneth Paltrow on the front cover. I had a complete WTF?+UGH reaction all at the same time. Plus, if I wanted to read an article about a movie star, I could buy any one of the numerous OK! and Hello! magazines out there. Since then, the issues have been getting worse and worse- if I, manage to find page 1 of an article I want to read, I now have to flip through several ads to try and find page 2 of the same article. Simply disgraceful.

                                          1. Bon Appetit went downhill a long time ago. I let my subscription expire and will never renew.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: jjbourgeois

                                              I can do better than that :) I had a subscription for a year or two 25 years ago, and haven't renewed since then.

                                              1. re: paulj

                                                I liked it from 1978-1986 or so. I'd have to look at the covers to be sure of when I truly lost interest.

                                            2. I was never a big follower of BA, but I believe it's gotten better in the last few months. My subscription transferred after Gourmet folded and I now enjoy "reading" it (the fried chicken recipe from a few months ago was great). It's not Saveur, but it'll do.

                                              Food & Wine, on the other hand, is now on my crap list.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: emily

                                                Btw, the 2 tricks I picked up on the fried chicken were 1) do not marinate overnight in buttermilk (it makes the skin soggy; dip it thinned buttermilk before flouring instead and 2) keep turning the chicken in the oil every 1-2 minutes while frying (rather than flipping once, which creates a flattened/dark bottom). The latter seems kind of "duh" to me now, but I apparently couldn't figure it out on my own.

                                              2. Conde Nast made an insane mistake when they put a non-cooking snarky former GQ editor in as ed-in-chief of Bon Appetit. He's turned it into a sort of Details for people whose idea of food is Manhattan take-out menus. It's arch, graphically derivative, pretentious, just plain awful. Make mine Saveur anyday.

                                                1. i'm sort of late to this thread but I wanted to vent anyway... I, too, was a bit wary of the changes in BA when they made Adam Rapoport editor. the first few issues he edited had a zillion recipes for pre-cooked ham (!!!) and a lot of offensively basic "cooking tips" and "news." i almost canceled my subscription, but given the death of Gourmet i decided to give it a chance. some issues have had interesting stuff and good ideas, and the food photos are eye candy, but the magazine is more and more losing its personality. so many photos of fashion models sporting trendy outfits and perfectly done nails, as if this were Allure or Vogue or yeah, of course, GQ... the features with people, which used to be about food people, now just include lots of pretty hipsters who, it seems, are friends with the editor.
                                                  as a result, the magazine is both alienating and boring. alienating because it doesn't know its audience, and boring because it has no content to speak of. i just read a recipe for... spaghetti with cherry tomatoes! please! what a waste of my money.
                                                  perhaps the magazine appeals to an audience that's new to food publications? ???
                                                  anyway, i give up...