So far this week, two prominent members in the world of food media announced their plans to leave longstanding roles for new projects.
First, yesterday, the Board of Directors of Boston Common Press, the publishers of Cooks Illustrated, confirmed that Christopher Kimball — the bow-tied, be-spectacled original founder of the magazine and America's Test Kitchen — was leaving the company. Their exact words were, "Christopher Kimball's employment with America's Test Kitchen is ending." This matter has been floating around as a rumor for several months, so though the news did not come as much of a surprise, it nevertheless reverberated through the media world. Kimball has been a crucial voice for the publication and its television presence. He has fans separate from the company, and the two were so intermeshed it is nearly impossible to think of one without the other.
Cooks Illustrated's publisher noted that the separation is due to a contract disagreement. It doesn't sound like a smooth break. The publisher writes: "We made every effort to offer Chris a reasonable contract that reflected his significant contributions to the company, and are disappointed that we could not reach agreement." Kimball will continue to host the company's two television shows, America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Country, through 2016. A two-time magazine founder, rumors that Kimball will turn around and found another company are ripe.
In related news, today, Time, Inc. confirmed that Dana Cowin, who has been the Editor-in-Chief of Food & Wine magazine for 21 years, would be stepping down from her post. She will remain with the company, however. Cowin is moving into a role as Chief Creative Officer with Chefs Club International, the parent company of Chefs Club by Food & Wine, which is the company's relatively new restaurant concept with locations in New York City and Aspen, Colo. The restaurant serves as a pop-up space for chefs the publication heralds in their annual Best New Chefs issue, as well as chefs visiting from outside of the U.S. In her new roll, the CCO will be responsible for helping the culinary concept grow beyond its current two-city footprint. Cowin will "curate the visiting chefs program" and "oversee the content creation and marketing of the brand."
Cowin will remain at Food & Wine through mid-January; March will be the final issue she puts out. She told the New York Times, "I'm surprised that I could find something new that's this exciting." She apparently had not been looking to leave the company. Cowin's successor has not yet been named.
Also of note: Late last week, Russ Parsons, a long time editor of the Los Angeles Times' food section who had stepped down into a role as a columnist earlier this year, announced he was taking a buy-out from the Tribune Company, publishers of the LAT. Over at the Chicago Tribune, food reporter Kevin Pang also took the Tribune's buy-out.