Goodbye, Gourmet

As you probably know, Gourmet magazine has been discontinued and the November issue will be its last. A few weeks ago, the Seattle food community had a Gourmet magazine “wake” to honor the magazine. It was co-hosted by two food-loving friends of mine, Kim and Lorraine, and was held at Kim’s beautiful candlelit house.

On the day that it was announced that Gourmet magazine would be shuttered, the food community all over the country (and world, I imagine), was in shock. And the community here in Seattle was beside itself. Messages zinged frantically around Twitter as people tried to figure out what happened. Many condolence messages were sent to Ruth Reichl, editor of Gourmet. In Seattle, people tweeted local author, Matthew Amster-Burton, who wrote for Gourmet, to ask if he had any light to shed on the subject. As it turned out, he, Ruth, and everyone else at Gourmet had no idea this would happen. They were in the dark, too.

Over the course of the next few days, people poured out their hearts on Twitter about what Gourmet meant to them. At some point during all of this, the idea was hatched among the Seattle food lover community to have a Gourmet remembrance, which was soon called a “wake.” People were invited via Twitter. We were asked to bring our favorite Gourmet dish for the potluck. Gourmet cocktails were welcome, as well.

As you can imagine, the food at the wake was amazing. How could it not be? It was homemade food, made by food lovers, and all of the recipes were from Gourmet. I brought one of my favorite party dishes, Gratin Daphinois, from the Gourmet Cookbook (which is a must-have cookbook). I also brought a fun cocktail called Pine Cay Pink Flash. It is made with gin and pink grapefruit juice–a combo you can’t go wrong with as far as I’m concerned.

At one point in the evening, we gathered to talk about the influence of Gourmet in our lives (don’t forget that we are all food geeks).

Almost everyone had been reading it for years. Some people grew up with parents who read it. I subscribed to and read it most avidly when I lived in New York City. It always had restaurant reviews and news about the NYC food scene. I cut out recipes and pasted them into my recipe binder, which has gotten huge over the years. I will admit that I hadn’t been reading it so much in the past several years, because it had lost some of it’s relevance for me. But, that doesn’t mean that I am happy to see it go. I think it had a place as the grande dame of the food magazines. And for it to be discontinued does not bode well for the future of other food magazines.

Jon Rowley, a contributing editor for Gourmet, talked about his experiences with the magazine and about the people with whom had the pleasure of working. He also read a letter one of the other editors wrote to him for the occasion. His wife, Kate McDermott (Queen of Pie), talked about being around the talented people of Gourmet. They brought a couple of framed vintage Gourmet covers that they had been given as gifts by the magazine. Then Jon passed around his iPhone (which I thought was awesome) so everyone could look at the pictures of the Gourmet offices and the people, post-closing. The offices were bare and the people looked incredibly sad. Then we all retired to the kitchen to have some raw oysters, brought and hand-shucked by Jon–this was a high honor, for Jon is Mr. Oyster.

Although we had gathered for a sad reason, it was actually a joyful event. The more I hang around with the food lovers of Seattle, the more I realize that I am with my people. It was very nice to be in the presence of so many people who cherish the same things I do–good food, prepared well, offered joyfully. As usual, we had a wonderful time. I don’t think you can go wrong with a house full of people who like to eat and drink and hang out with other people.

Goodbye, Gourmet. You will be sorely missed.

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