Gourmet magazine was a monthly publication of Condé Nast and the first U.S. magazine devoted to food and wine. Founded by Earle R. MacAusland (1890–1980), Gourmet, first published in January 1941, also covered "good living" on a wider scale.
On October 5, 2009 Condé Nast announced that Gourmet would cease monthly publication by the end of 2009, due to a decline in advertising sales and shifting food interests among the readership. Editor Ruth Reichl, in the middle of a tour promoting the Gourmet Today cookbook, confirmed that the magazine's November 2009 issue, distributed in mid-October, was the magazine's last.
The Gourmet brand continues to be used by Condé Nast for book and television programming and recipes appearing on Epicurious.com. Since the end of its regular run, Condé Nast has also used the Gourmet brand in a series of special edition magazines, covering niches ranging from grilling and Italian food, to quick recipes, holiday foods, and comfort foods.
Gourmet was founded by Earle MacAusland who went on to serve as publisher and editor in chief for nearly forty years. Its first issue was January 1941, and its main competitor at the time was American Cookery, formerly the Boston Cooking School Magazine which had been published since 1896. Much of the content was similar – articles on food, recipes by the magazine, recipes submitted by readers, recipes requested by readers and advice sought by readers. But American Cookery was in black-and-white, printed on newsprint, with smaller pages and content focused on America. Gourmet was upscale, slick, in color, with a focus on Europe and New York City, and most of its recipes carrying French names. Gourmet began publication just before America entered World War II, which brought war rationing. Its upscale audience was urged to save the issues and to use the recipes after the war and rationing ended.
Condé Nast bought the magazine in 1983.
On October 5, 2009 Condé Nast Publications CEO Chuck Townsend announced that the magazine would cease monthly publication; the company "will remain committed to the brand, retaining Gourmet’s book publishing and television programming, and Gourmet recipes on Epicurious. We will concentrate our publishing activities in the epicurean category on Bon Appétit."
Editors in chief:
- Pearl V. Mezelthin (1941–1943)
- Earle R. MacAusland (1943–1980)
- Jane Montant (1980–1991)
- Gail Zweigenthal (1991–1998)
- Ruth Reichl (1999–2009)
In the aftermath of the announcement that Gourmet was folding, its cookbook, Gourmet Today, released a few weeks before the news, saw a significant spike in sales. The cookbook includes over 1,000 recipes for everything from vegetable dishes to cocktails.
Expansion into television
In October 2009, Gourmet launched Gourmet's Adventures With Ruth on PBS as a follow up to Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie which was also on the public television channel. The show features editor Ruth Reichl visiting cooking schools around the world with well-known chefs.