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RIP Paul Bocuse, and the State of Food Media

From the Editor: A major shift is happening in our world right now

Paul Bocuse
Photo: AFP / Getty Images

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

The dining room at The Studio
Photo by Anthony Bui

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.

On Eater

This week on the Upsell

This week on the Eater Upsell podcast, we spoke with reporter Vince Dixonabout his story on the business of restaurant dishes going viral.

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.

Off Eater

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