Major changes are underfoot at 39-year-old glossy mag Food & Wine. The publication’s editor-in-chief of a little over a year, Nilou Motamed, is being replaced by Cooking Light editor Hunter Lewis. Soon, the publication will also move its headquarters from New York City to Birmingham, Alabama, where several other Time Inc. publications like Cooking Light and Southern Living are based.
This is a major move, considering that Food & Wine’s New York headquarters were a large part of its cultural identity — the mag even sprouted an affiliated restaurant in Soho featuring guest chefs from around the country. Motamed’s departure is especially surprising given that she was the big hire who replaced longtime Food & Wine editor Dana Cowin after she stepped down at the start of 2016. Just last weekend, Nilou was rubbing shoulders with chefs and food writers from around the country and sabering Champagne bottles at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. Motamed tells the New York Times: “I’m intensely proud of what we’ve accomplished at Food & Wine and excited about my next chapter... Leaving is a difficult decision, but my life is in New York and the future of the brand lies elsewhere.” No word yet on her future plans.
The company will save money by operating outside of New York, but it also sounds like the move might also signal an editorial shift, as well. New editor Hunter Lewis tells the Times: “This was less about cutting costs and more about maximizing the facilities we have in Birmingham... Also thinking about the consumer first — there are sophisticated food eaters and wine drinkers everywhere now, in cities big and small.”
A number of employees found out about the move moments before the Times story broke this morning. Reporter Stephanie Strom notes that the details of the relocation are still being worked out, but that some New York members of the team “would likely be offered the chance to move to Birmingham.” Lewis later clarified on Twitter that F&W will maintain some “key” operations across the brand in NYC:
Stay tuned for more updates on the changes at Food & Wine as they become available.