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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ruth Reichl Pays (Delayed) Visit to St. Louis

Posted By on Wed, Nov 4, 2009 at 1:50 PM

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Reichl was generous toward her former employer, Conde Nast. "Our main advertisers were luxury brands," she explained. "Travel, cars, financial institutions, jewelry. None of those are advertising anymore." She had suggested to Si Newhouse, CEO of Conde Nast, that Gourmet operate on a business model more like that of rival Cooks Illustrated, charging a higher subscription rate and eliminating the need for advertising altogether. But it was no-go.

  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
Gourmet will continue to live on through its TV shows, Diary of a Foodie and the new Adventures With Ruth, in which Reichl visits cooking schools around the world. The fate of its web site is still uncertain, but the recipes will continue to be available on Epicurious, Conde Nast's food site. "But it won't be as good without Gourmet," Reichl said, in a rare flash of bitterness.

Some audience members, during the Q&A session, tried to cheer Reichl up by asking her to tell more stories about her mother, "The Queen of Mold," immortalized in her first memoir Tender at the Bone, and about Berkeley in the 70s, when she first began writing seriously about food.

And finally, what were Reichl's impressions of the St. Louis food scene?

Here, she rallied. "I had lunch today at Monarch prepared by four local chefs," she said. She couldn't remember all of them, but the audience cheerfully supplied the names: Josh Galliano of Monarch, Gerard Craft of Niche, Michael Roberts of Atlas and Kevin Nashan of Sidney Street Cafe.

"My husband is from St. Louis," Reichl continued. "I told him, 'We're going to have to come back here...and eat!'" 

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