Foodies noshing on jerk riblets and carrot cake macaroons at a Manhattan fundraiser on Sunday paused to mourn Gourmet magazine, which is closing after nearly 60 years of publication. "It's a terrible tragedy for the food world to have squashed this very important voice," said Kemp Minifie, who was Gourmet's executive food editor until Conde Nast announced that the magazine's November issue would be its last.
"We were tackling some of the hard issues in food, and now there's just fluff." The event at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel overlooking Central Park was a benefit for Action Against Hunger and a book signing for several dozen chefs who contributed recipes to two new books by photographer Alan Batt, Small Things Sweet and Small Things Savory.
Batt, who calls himself "Battman," also shoots the photographs for the annual New York City Firefighters Calendar. His photos in the Small Things books look less like beefcake and more like elegant edible miniatures shot against stark black or white backgrounds.
Batt said he put out a call to former Gourmet staffers to attend the event, known as the "Great Gathering of Chefs," so he could give them a plaque adorned with two golden forks. "It's been around a long time," he said of the magazine. "It's an old familiar face."
Gerald Randolph, an ad salesman at Gourmet, said the magazine's closing was a shock, "but it was kind of expected because of what we'd seen with the other magazines and our partners in the industry."
Minifie, who was at Gourmet for nearly 32 years, said she believed Conde Nast underestimated the anger readers would feel over the loss of the magazine.
"They felt like this was a dear friend," she said. Chefs signing cookbooks and offering tasty canapes ranged from the haute to the down home. There was David Waltuck, whose casual French restaurant Chanterelle also recently closed, and there was the Food Network's Sunny Anderson, who contributed a recipe with salami, cheese and frozen crescent rolls to "Small Thinks Savory." "I'm honored to be in the same room with all these great chefs," Anderson said.
Ellen Anistratov, a co-owner of the venerable Yonah Schimmel knish bakery, said she was shocked to lose Gourmet. "I couldn't believe my ears," said Anistratov. "It was an honor to be written about in Gourmet magazine."