High-End Food Pubs Get Down to Earth

High-End Food Pubs Get Down to Earth

Food & Drink

High-End Food Pubs Get Down to Earth


By Cari Martens

With the economy still in a tailspin, it seems that even the high-brow food magazines have gotten the message that it’s time to pay attention to home economics—as in cheap eats on the home front.

Food publications that usually talk haute cuisine have begun to devote pages to such humble subjects as homemade pot pies and what to do with leftovers.

p(left caption). PHOTO: Lars Klove for The New York Times

Gourmet magazine, known for stories about expensive restaurants and exotic travel, featured a ham sandwich on its March 2009 cover. Bon Appetít is running a cover story on a ‘low-cost, big flavor’ pizza party. And Food & Wine is offering advice on buying the cheapest bottle from a wine list.

Ruth Reichl, the editor in chief of Gourmet, was quoted in a New York Times article written by Stephanie Clifford. ‘People need help learning to cook again,’ Reichl said. ‘They need advice on less-expensive ingredients, and we’re trying to give it to them.’

Food & Wine editor in chief Dana Cowin admits they won’t be publishing recipes that involve lots of foie gras or truffle shavings. A back-to-basics attitude appears to be taking hold among all the high-end food mags. And, as they attempt to relate better to the economic issues facing their readers, the upscale publications have their own financial worries to deal with. Advertising pages were down significantly in 2008, and the declines have only increased so far in 2009.

Middle-of-the-road food magazines are faring better. For example, Cooking with Paula Deen and Every Day with Rachael Ray each enjoyed an increase in ad pages in 2008.

It’s pretty clear that readers want common-sense, down-to-earth recipes and food information that helps them stretch their food dollar. Those who do the best job of staying relevant in these tough times will not only survive, they may actually thrive.

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