Gourmet’s not quite dead yet, Ruth Reichl suggested at the premiere of her new TV show last night. “At this point, we don’t know how the brand will go forward, but there seems to be interest in doing TV, books, and even a yearly publication,” she told us. “Condé Nast people have come to me and asked ‘Would you be interested in that?’ and I said ‘Absolutely.’”
The show, Gourmet’s Adventures with Ruth, debuts on public television this weekend (check local listings). A mix of travelogue and cooking, it also has a tiny bit of the Anthony Bourdain “uckk” formula thrown in, like when Reichl tackles an ant-egg salad in Laos. The show has the author visiting cooking schools in several countries, often with prominent actors in tow. Frances McDormand, in overalls and sans makeup, joins Reichl at Blackberry Farm Resort in Tennessee for the first episode; Lorraine Bracco and Jeremy Wright appear in later episodes. Not really a recipe show — “It’s not put ten teaspoons of this, but all the recipes are on the website,” says a producer — Adventures leans towards the culinary tourism side, given its sponsor, American Airlines.
Supporters at the fête included several Gourmet staffers (who are apparently difficult to find), Wright, Drew Nieporent, Calvin Trillin (who’s added the Blue Ribbon Bakery to his annual New Yorker Festival food tour on Sunday), and chef Cesare Casella. “I came tonight because Ruth is Ruth,” Casella said. (She’s also a neighbor and a patron of his Salumeria Rosi restaurant.) As for Gourmet’s renaissance, he’s certainly rooting for it, if only to add to his library: “I have 25 different Gourmet books I bought on eBay over the years.”