In honor of the New York Michelin guide’s fifth anniversary, chefs gathered last night at Rockefeller Center to celebrate new stars or mourn their loss. They were also grieving the sudden death of Gourmet. We took the opportunity to ask the city’s kitchen elite what losing an iconic title means for their industry.
Fabio Trabocchi, The Four Seasons: “I’ve been a Gourmet [reader] for as long as I can remember. It is going to feel strange when I don’t receive it in the mail. I’m sure it’s a tough decision; I hope that they tried to find ways to save it. As chefs, we always look forward to the October “Restaurant Issue.” It’s not only a vehicle of getting your restaurant known, but to know what else is going on. It’s a tremendous loss for the industry.”
Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Jean Georges: “I found out Gourmet was shutting this afternoon. I was supposed to do the Early Show show on Wednesday for the Gourmet Institute, but the show’s producers called to say it was canceled. So I called Susan Magrino who does PR for the institute*. Everything is canceled, she said. I was very shocked. It was the first international food magazine I bought back when I was in Bangkok. It was 1980 and I was 23. There was no Internet so I read it to stay informed. Gourmet was not the Bible but people read it. But the world changes. It’s big and sad news.”
Jeffery Chodorow, China Grill Management: “Gourmet closed? What? That’s a shame. It’s a sign of the times, I guess. We’re on food overload. There’s so many magazines and blogs available for free, why would you pay for it? The good news is you can’t eat over the Internet.”
Marc Forgione, Murphy Landmarc: “It’s a very sad day. The first Gourmet I read was the one I was in. It was a double review of me and Scott Conant, who is now a good friend. I was so proud to be in Gourmet.”
Gregory Brainin, chef, Jean Georges Group: “Gourmet closing is scary and sad. To be so well established. David Chang wouldn’t be David Chang without Gourmet. I’m not saying it made him, but you can’t deny that the magazine was a catalyst.”
David Chang, Momofuku Ko: “Losing Gourmet is fucking sad. It’s fucking horrible.”
André Soltner, Dean of Classic Studies at the French Culinary Institute: (via phone) “The first time I heard of Gourmet magazine, I still was in France. Then when I came here in 1961, I bought Gourmet magazine right away. I was very impressed. Gourmet was always very objective, and not destructive. When I had my restaurant [Lutèce], the review was written by Jay Jacobs. It was very positive. Restaurants, back 40 years ago, were not so known by television or the New York Times, so Gourmet helped a lot. It brought us customers. It was not just a thing for a week. We had customers coming in for a year because of Gourmet.”
*Correction: In his original interview, Vongerichten misstated the TV program he was scheduled to appear on, as well as Susan Magrino’s affiliation with Gourmet.