The talented men and woman who made Food & Wine magazine‘s cut for its “10 Best New Chefs” were announced months ago, but I was nevertheless excited to learn more about them when the July issue arrived.
Their smiling faces and the promise of their “simplest recipes” inside made me want to dive right in, but I just couldn’t get past the cover. Specifically the right edge, where three thin yet visible staggered pages made up only the tiniest fraction of the cover. Still it was distracting, and upon further investigation, confusing.
Initially, I thought the three tabs, titled “Masters of Innovation,” “Masters of Design” and “Masters of Sustainability,” were relevant to the best new chefs. Instead, the six-page advertising spread covered chefs from Bravo network’s TV show “Top Chef” and touted luxury automaker Lexus. Just the juxtaposition of so many elements–and the questions it raised–were enough to drive me to the table of contents for some expected solace.
Still, I wanted to make some sense of the magazine’s entropic introduction. Turns out, Bravo’s “Top Chef” is judged by former Food & Wine “Best New Chef” Tom Colicchio and the magazine’s special projects guru, Gail Simmons. With the seventh season premiere of the show taking place June 16, the cross promotion was understandable, if a little muddled with Lexus added to the mix.
According to the ad spread, the same innovation, design and sustainability qualities found in some of Bravo’s top chefs presumably can also be discovered by driving one of Lexus’ luxury vehicles. Ultimately, I think too many distractions took away from what could have been a cleverly made point.
But distractions aside, I question the placement of the three “Masters of” staggered ads visible on the cover. None explicitly state “Bravo” or “Top Chef” or “Lexus,” but each of those “Masters of” titles referred to the ad spread accompanying each cascaded page.
Even after reviewing some of the American Society of Magazine Editors’ recent decisions on whether other cover ads have crossed the line, I didn’t quite know how the professional organization would judge Food & Wine’s July cover. But I tend to think if it looks like an ad and refers to an ad, then that’s what it would be.