This post originally appeared on January 20, 2018, in Amanda Kludt’s newsletter “From the Editor,” a roundup of the most vital news and stories in the food world each week. Read the archives and subscribe now.
Before I get into the state of food media, a moment of mourning for Paul Bocuse, the iconic French chef and a father of nouvelle cuisine who just died at the age of 91. RIP Monsieur Paul.
This week Bonnier, the publisher of Saveur, laid off 70 workers, including Saveur’s editor-in-chief Adam Sachs and about half of the edit staff. They are now a team of six and will move to a quarterly publishing schedule.
Conde Nast, the publisher of Bon Appetit, Vanity Fair, and other titles, laid off 80 workers in the fall, with rumors of more cuts on the way.
Meredith, the publisher of Better Homes & Gardens and Martha Stewart Living, and others, bought Time Inc., the publisher of Cooking Light, Food & Wine, and Extra Crispy, and plans to make $400-$500 million in cost cuts. Time Inc. already implemented some economies of scale with its food brands earlier last year when it merged the editorial leadership of its major food titles.
Hearst, the publisher of Food Network Magazine, Good Housekeeping, among others, bought Rodale late last year and announced this week they will cut 145 jobs in March, potentially threatening the future of small, digital-only Rodale brand Organic Life.
And we all know Lucky Peach is long dead.
Meanwhile, David Carey, the president of Hearst Magazines, predicts a bloodbath in the digital space this year. He’s talking more about the BuzzFeeds of the world, but it’s telling that this week saw the demise of darling online media outlets The Awl and The Hairpin.
Writer Kevin Alexander tweeted that it feels like the way we thought 2008 would be. I would add that it feels like the way 2009 was. That was the year that saw the end of Gourmet and the first and only layoffs I’ve ever experienced at Eater. And we weren’t the only ones. About one year into the recession, it was kind of where the rubber met the road. What’s interesting now is that these media struggles are coming during an economic boom, as publishers consolidate to fight the current state of declining ad dollars and batten down the hatches for a potential downturn that some believe is long overdue.
On a positive note, some food media brands continue to thrive, including Bon Appetit (even if they’ll only have 10 issues this year), the commercially successful but often overlooked Food Network Mag, indie brands like Cherry Bombe and a revived Modern Farmer, and upshoot ‘zines, newsletters, and podcasts. Plus, major players like The New Yorker, the SF Chronicle, and the New York Times have even increased investment in food reporting and storytelling.
Oh yeah, and we’re still here, doing our thing. Thank you (as always!) for keeping us here.
Opening of the week: Freehand Hotel’s F&B
Who is behind it?: Gabe Stulman, the owner of Village neighborhood favorites Joseph Leonard, Jeffrey’s, Fedora, Bar Sardine, and Fairfax.
What is it?: The Freehand is a très cool hotel from Miami (and now LA and Chicago) that started as this kind of ramshackle, hostel-y oasis for cheap rooms and good cocktails, and has morphed into a fashionable Ace Hotel rival (nb: design firm Roman and Williams did both). Here, when it’s all said and done, Stulman will operate a restaurant (Simon & The Whale), a bar (The George Washington Bar), and an all-day cafe (Studio).
Where is it?: Flatiron, New York.
When did it open?: The main restaurant opens in the upcoming week but the cafe and bar are open now.
Why should I care?: The Freehand is cool, plus Stulman has a pretty much perfect track record for opening very good neighborhood restaurants with consistently solid food. I’m mostly intrigued by The Studio because it looks like I can have breakfast meetings there while eating date-dulce de leche babka (!) and eggs with phyllo and harissa or halva granola.
- Intel: Paul Bocuse is dead; Ugly Delicious, a new Netflix series starring Dave Chang, arrives later this month; SF’s Tartine will open an outpost in Union Square; Austin got a giant new food hall; a branch of New York’s NoMad opened in downtown LA; the third Locol opened in a San Jose Whole Foods; the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival announced a 60-person all-female advisory council; Four Barrel Coffee settled its sexual harassment lawsuit out of court and is keeping its name after all; the matriarch behind wonderful NYC Puerto Rican restaurant Casa Adela died at 81; Jamie Oliver is closing a number of his restaurants; these are the most anticipated winter restaurant openings in San Francisco, Atlanta, Boston, Charleston, and LA; and British star chef Angela Hartnett said this week that British food culture Is “all about money.”
- This week’s reviews: Bill Addison on Cantonese food in Vancouver and Richmond; Ryan Sutton on I Sodi in NYC; Rachel Levin on Ayesha Curry’s International Smoke in SF.
- Rejoice: 2018 is the year of edible Tide Pods and ax-throwing bars.
- I’m maybe the only one who cares, but the almost-30-year-old Faneuil Hall location of Bertucci’s closed in Boston.
- Robert Sietsema’s guide to what to order at Bo Ky in Chinatown.
- Our pop culture editor Greg Morabito is so not a fan of new Netflix show Somebody Feed Phil, as he wrote recently in his food entertainment newsletter (P.S. click here to subscribe), but I can 100% see Phil Rosenthal’s appeal as the non-edgy and non-food-snob foil to Bourdain and Zimmern. He is just a dorky dude wandering around the world in dad shorts and a polo, eating all the food he can with endearing delight. He’s like Netflix’s own Rick Steves.
- How to eat breakfast like a local in Beirut.
- My colleague Daniela Galarza, one of the best bakers, pastry aficionados, and orderers-of-dessert that I know, wrote the guide to New York’s 15 essential bakeries, and I LOVE IT.
- And in soon-to-be “On Eater” news, our own Sonia Chopra and chef Marcus Samuelsson presented our upcoming PBS show No Passports Required to a group of television critics, and it’s making me very excited for its July release.
This week on the Upsell
Meanwhile, I appeared on this week’s episode of The Ringer’s House of Carbs podcast. Took me a minute to get into this show, but now I can’t get enough.
- OpenTable, the Chicago Tribune, and Bon Appetit’s podcast hosted female-only conversations to discuss harassment, power dynamics, and action in the restaurant industry. [Open for Business, Chicago Tribune, iTunes]
- Meanwhile, the NYT asked an all-white, all-male panel of restaurateurs about how the sexual harassment claims have changed their businesses. [YouTube, 40-min. mark]
- It’s wild that so many investors are talking trash behind Barbara Lynch’s back. First: Who told you investing in a high-end restaurant was a good idea? Second: Have some decency and keep the dirty laundry out of the press. [Boston Globe]
- Oh hey: most of the management team and much of the board at Sonic comprises of women and people of color. [NYT]
- I have met and enjoy Tamar Adler, but understand why people on social media think her too-perfect Grub Street Diet reads like a satire on life in Hudson, NY. [GS]
- Tia Keenan is not wrong here. [Twitter]
- The next Bechdel test. [FiveThirtyEight]
- Pondicheri’s chef and owner: #notinmykitchen. [Plate]