Change 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?