6 Changes in Bon Appétit Magazine Since Adam Rapoport and Company Took Over

bonappetit_may2011.jpgChange was inevitable at Bon Appétit magazine this year, what with a new editor-in-chief, a new test kitchen director, a new publisher and a new home in New York City. The 2011 issues thus far haven’t yielded any (or at least barely noticeable) changes. But that was before the May 2011 edition was published.

Touted as editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport’s “first,” the latest Bon Appétit features some differences, but they may be just the beginning. Rapoport, GQ magazine’s former style editor, told WWD, “The first issue is not going to change too much. We want to retain readers and win new readers. I don’t think you’ll get everything done in one issue.”

After just one issue, it may be premature to predict what the future holds for my pick for Best Food Magazine of 2010, but so far, I think only one item on this list (Sunday Suppers) has gone by the wayside. With that said, there are six noticeable differences in Bon Appétit now that its new leadership has released its first “new” issue.

1. Covers: Regular readers may notice that Bon Appétit’s covers have taken on a more GQ look, at least in the sense that four of 2011′s five covers have featured a dish on a white (or nearly white) background, much like Rapoport’s former stylish employer.

2. Photography: The same eye-catching visuals for which the magazine is revered aren’t so posed or perfect. Crumbs and dripping cheeses give the photos a realism reminiscent of Saveur magazine (which is incidentally where the test kitchen director came from).

3. Focus: Don’t expect to see stars here (though the New York Post is reporting Gwyneth Paltrow is the June cover girl). Instead, look for fundamental cooking techniques to pull off classic, tested recipes, such as the Pasta al Pomodoro topped with grated cheese featured on the cover.

4. Sections: While the popular “R.S.V.P.” and “Fast, Easy, Fresh” columns remain intact, there are some changes. “Family Meal” celebrates the people and cuisine you love, “The Providers” takes on the time-crunch challenge of putting a meal on the table, and “Back of the Napkin” gives a celebrity this space (literally) to share an answer to a food-related question.

5. Typography and Cover Omissions: New cover and section header fonts are minor details, I know. But what’s missing is also noticeable, such as the near-iconic teardrop graphic that used to contain the cover entrée’s name, the “Eat Well/Savor Life” tag, and the familiar colored “o” and accent mark in the masthead.

6. Advertising: With ad pages up 25 percent for the May issue thanks to new business from heavy-hitters Maybelline and Kraft Foods, count also among the differences a boost in size–and that’s not a one-issue wonder. WWD also reports that June 2011 has grown upwards of 40 percent.

What changes have you noticed in your Bon Appétit magazine subscription? What would you like to see changed, or more importantly, stay the same?

This entry was posted in Food on by .
Michelle Ryan

About Michelle Ryan

Michelle Ryan is obsessed with good food, great shoes and Alabama football way down South in Savannah, Georgia. She hasn’t met a kitchen gadget she hasn’t at least thought about buying (trying them is another story) and devotes her time to Bikram Yoga, baking and trying to overcome long-held finicky eating habits.

  • Lab333

    Recipes great. Need more recipes, less fluff, and clearer formatting. I think new format is a mess and am canceling after 20 years….

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for reading and commenting! Sorry to hear that you’re cancelling, but if you’re looking for more recipes, that’s understandable. I am enjoying Bon Appetit’s desserts cookbook and Gourmet’s cookie book, so at least there are those outlets for enjoying your favorite magazines recipes.

  • Checkthefacts22

    Totally disppointed with the new look and content of the magazine. I detest the “GQ” look. Received a subscription as a gift at the beginning of the year. If it wasn’t for that I wouldn’t go out of my way to purchase nor subscribe to the magazine. I usually want to try out 3-4 recipes from an issue, but I haven’t wanted to test any of them so far. I will be spending my $$ on other foodie magazines.

  • Anonymous

    The good news is that there are plenty of other foodie magazines out there. If you’re not already subscribing to others or you want to check out some you aren’t getting, you’ve come to the right place here! Thanks for reading! 

  • disappointedFoodie

    I was really disappointed in the new May issue–I too have been a long-term subscriber.  The June issue is even worse in terms of recipes and (although Gwyneth Paltrow is very nice I’m sure), my draw for Bon Appetit is FOOD, not a celebrity.  It makes me feel like I’m reading Fitness (with a few recipes thrown in for good measure) rather than a cooking magazine.  I too will be looking for a new choice when my subscription expires.

  • Doughmaven

    Agree, hated Gwyneth on the cover. If I wanted Good Housekeeping I would have bought it.  Also, I feel the vibe is directed towards hipster twenty somethings, which is a good target b/c they are into cooking where the previous few generations were not at that age.  But, I feel the loyal readers have been dissed a bit in favor of the hipster market.  

  • Anonymous

    I can see how you’d feel that way. The new look definitely has a different, edgier vibe. Have you seen the newest issue? I think July may be an improvement over June, but in some ways, that wouldn’t really be difficult. If you’ve seen it, do you think it’s better or still out of touch?

  • Jane

    After receiving the August 2011 issues yesterday and commenting that we now had 3 disappointing issues in a row, I started trying to figure out what was happening . . . . and now I know – new editor.  The issues are now frenetic and disjointed.  It looks like menus have been phased out, RSVP is reduced significantly, and the clear readable fonts replaced with smaller cramped fonts.  I’ve been a subscriber since 1994 and will not be one much longer.  What a disappointment to see my favorite magazine take such a dive.  

  • Anonymous

    Hi Jane, I haven’t received my August issue yet, but I thought some of the July issue was an improvement over June. It will be interesting to see how, if at all, the editors respond to subscribers’ feedback. If you liked the “old” Bon Appetit, the changes can be hard to take. Do you have any other favorite magazines or considering any new ones? You can learn more about which ones might be right for you by reading this blog. Happy cooking!

  • Karyn

    BA has become just like every other grocery store checkout lane magazine.   The recipes have no challenge or creativity and it’s always more of the same old thing.   My subscription (which I’ve had for close to 20 years!) is not being renewed this month. 

  • PutTheBonBackInBonAppetit

    I am very disappointed in the changes in the new Bon Appetit magazine. The layout is very cluttered as a result, it is difficult to choose and compare recipes. Sometimes I can barely find the recipes due to the disjunctive vibe…and I am one of the so-called “hipster 20-somethings” one of the other commenters surmised the new magazine is supposedly geared to serve. I also found the Gwyneth Paltrow cover a bit pandering. It seems the magazine is no longer concerned with good, creative food–and instead has become another cheap supermarket rag.

    I also don’t appreciate the fact that most of the features and columns are thinly disguised to appeal to a straight-male audience. For instance, the August issue cover features a pie with the bold text “American Pie” — in light of the other GQ-like changes in the magazine this title made me nauseated upon reading it. Another issue featured a story by one of the few female writers about her bbq anxiety, and how her husband must swoop in and save her family from her disastrous inability to cook outdoors. I have already decided to let my subscription lapse.

  • Emily

    I’m pretty darn disappointed with the most recent Bon App magazines.  I’ve subscribed for as long as I can remember and the changes are drastic.  Ok, Paltrow on the cover was a bad call, but how about the recipes on the inside?  I don’t think there’s one that I would make out of the Sept or Oct issues.  It’s like they’re trying too hard.  It’s fine to use some different ingredients, but when most of the recipes call for something you have to search for at a specialty store, it doesn’t seem worth it at all.  I love to cook and bake and have relied on Bon App for so, so long for well tested, unique (but not crazy unique recipes that I can’t make for a week night dinner) recipes; it’s sad to see the change.  Bring back the Bon App of old!

  • Bob Mathews

    You suggest that we should “look for fundamental cooking techniques to pull off classic, tested recipes.”

    That content has been very hard to find. In fact, I find that they mess up a lot of fundamental cooking techniques. It is as if the celebrities are being consulted for their expertise in food science and cooking.