That's one sad kitchen
November 2, 2009 4:57 PM   Subscribe

The Last Days of Gourmet Some photos of the last few days of clean-up from the inside of Gourmet Magazine's offices.
posted by mathowie (59 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nice office kitchen.
posted by josher71 at 4:59 PM on November 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


.
posted by blaneyphoto at 5:02 PM on November 2, 2009


Thanks for this, fascinating and sad.

On a side note, I'd love to talk with people at the recently deceased Gourmet for some research I am doing (I'm a sociologist at a business school). If anyone know somebody, please MeFi mail me...
posted by blahblahblah at 5:03 PM on November 2, 2009


There's a joke about a 'doggie bag' in there somewhere, but the images are too depressing for me to be witty about it. Surprisingly depressing.
posted by chambers at 5:07 PM on November 2, 2009


Wow, that look like an office. Well, with ladles but otherwise like every other office in the county. I'm sure that it was a great magazine but I'm not really seeing the point here.
posted by octothorpe at 5:07 PM on November 2, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'm sure that it was a great magazine but I'm not really seeing the point here.

Gourmet meant a lot to a lot of people and it published since 1941.

My biggest memory of them is that their covers were austere with just a photo of something amazing and the title across the top, the type of thing that went away 30-40 years ago in favor of covering a magazine cover in call-outs to articles "101 Ways to Improve Your Cooking -- In a Snap!" in day-glo green covering half the photo.
posted by mathowie at 5:11 PM on November 2, 2009 [5 favorites]


As the last helicopter scrapes evacuees off the roof of the Condé Nast embassy, a lone tank of the Food Bloggers Red Army busts through the doors of the magainze publishing industry's Presidential Palace...
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:11 PM on November 2, 2009 [29 favorites]


Good post of a very nice photographic essay. It surprised me that photos of cubicles and attractive people and boxes could carry so much understated sadness.
posted by bearwife at 5:12 PM on November 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is there any magazine that Condé Nast runs well?
posted by Nelson at 5:16 PM on November 2, 2009


I'm not really seeing the point here.

The inside of your home probably looks like the inside of a lot of other homes, but if I took pictures of someone moving out of their home after having been forced out by circumstance, I bet those photos would be depressing.

It's sad to see the process in action. It's not world-class award winning emotive photography, but it conveys the mood and some of the character of the people that worked there. It's nice to see 'everyman' photography and have an emotional reaction to seeing the plights of people I don't know.
posted by chambers at 5:17 PM on November 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


offices are ugly. how did I ever spend so much time in those places without getting sick?

Oh yeah. I did get sick.
posted by philip-random at 5:23 PM on November 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, Conde Nast employees in Manhattan sure have it rough.
posted by leotrotsky at 5:24 PM on November 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was expecting something a little more specialized, maybe hors d'oeuvres from the last photo shoot or inflatable Julia Child dolls. Looks like every layoff I've been a part of. Not that that's a plus or minus, but what made those photos different?
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 5:51 PM on November 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ah, the 4TSq elevator lights!

Sorry for all the poor lowly schmucks there, but not for the way overpaid higherups at Conde who always did their best to earn the 'Nasty' second part of their common name.
posted by HTuttle at 5:58 PM on November 2, 2009


(octothorpe:) I'm sure that it was a great magazine but I'm not really seeing the point here.

(mathowie:) Gourmet meant a lot to a lot of people and it published since 1941.


Sorry, mathowie, but I'm with octothorpe here.

Yeah, I'm sorry to see the magazine go, too; but the pictures are dull, badly composed, vague, and have no inherent context. They could be pictures of any damn office anywhere, in any financial condition at all.

Boxes storing stuff, stacked in work spaces? Check.
Office workers filled with ennui? Check.
Empty offices? Check.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:06 PM on November 2, 2009 [7 favorites]


The saddest picture is the one of the elevator bank, where the sign for Lucky still sits proudly. A ridiculous magazine about shopping can survive, nay, thrive, but not Gourmet?
posted by sugarfish at 6:10 PM on November 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


I feel bad for the people in those images. I've been in a couple of businesses that went south suddenly, and on the last day there's always that sense of "hey, wow, all of this was totally meaningless," and at the same time you're in mourning for the human connections you've made at the office that can't possibly endure, based they are on little more than shared circumstances and proximity.
posted by killdevil at 6:14 PM on November 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


but the pictures are dull, badly composed, vague, and have no inherent context. They could be pictures of any damn office anywhere, in any financial condition at all.

For me, that's the point. I worked for two years in an office so similar to the one shown that it might as well be the same one even though it was in a different country, 5000 miles away, and a rather different industry (hi-tech). But looking at these photos just brings it all back, like every f***ing day was a piece of some ongoing death throes.

Future generations will look back with (whatever that word is that fuses confusion-horror) .
posted by philip-random at 6:17 PM on November 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


I feel bad for the people in those images. I've been in a couple of businesses that went south suddenly, and on the last day there's always that sense of "hey, wow, all of this was totally meaningless," and at the same time you're in mourning for the human connections you've made at the office that can't possibly endure, based they are on little more than shared circumstances and proximity.

Hmm, I must say that I've yet to have a job meaningful enough to have felt that way if it ended. However, I totally relate to your second point.
posted by josher71 at 6:17 PM on November 2, 2009


We subscribed for years and then one month it was no longer about the recipes. It was a CondeNast thing. The magazine became full of image with no substance. It took awhile but its demise was inevitable. That's what those pictures were full of... inevitability.
posted by Xurando at 6:24 PM on November 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


Jesus, that's sad.

The layoffs at the Oakland office of Lonely Planet happened in waves; editors, cartographers, and designers would leave as their books went to press. We all went to a lot last-day drinks.
posted by rtha at 6:26 PM on November 2, 2009


In case anyone is wondering The New Yorker offices look surprisingly similar.

Which is why I do not like going into The New Yorker offices.

I'm going in tomorrow, to pick up shit and snarl
posted by The Whelk at 6:26 PM on November 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


In the end, I think, this is like a child discovering that a circus isn't a magical lands of whimsy and exotic animals and fantastical people.

Pehaps that child saw the clowns having turns with the bearded lady. Perhaps there was a fire, or, as in my own case, the not whimsical thought. "That horse looks thin and tired". I subscribed to Gourmet. Every issue, a simple, artful arrangement. A pot roast, or maybe a softly lit turkey, or a rack of lamb surrounded by equally austere decorations that hinted -- hinted! -- of Easter. And now this photoessay. The bare and mundane truths laid out so plainly for us all. The copier, with sad votive candle. The worried asian woman, cradling her boxes. Are they recipes? Sales numbers? Pathetic Child/ Pepin fan fiction?

All of those amazing, luxurious recipes. Exotic foods that gave me hope that, perhaps, I too could one day natter knowingly about regional cheese variations in France. What is it called? "Taste of the place"? I can't even remember now. All of that, produced from as gray and lifeless a place as seen anywhere in America.

So long, Gourmet, so long.
posted by boo_radley at 6:30 PM on November 2, 2009 [4 favorites]


octothorpe: "Wow, that look like an office. Well, with ladles but otherwise like every other office in the county. I'm sure that it was a great magazine but I'm not really seeing the point here."

Land sakes, what is this world coming to with all the ladies in the office?! No wonder they failed. Serves those women right for not being proper housewives.
posted by graventy at 6:31 PM on November 2, 2009


Haha, oh christ did I misread that. My bad.
posted by graventy at 6:31 PM on November 2, 2009 [16 favorites]


Thinking good thoughts for all the people affected by the closing... but a lot of those pictures would be awesome for another twisted version of Succesories posters.
posted by Noon Under the Trees at 6:34 PM on November 2, 2009


good god, graventy.
posted by boo_radley at 6:45 PM on November 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


TWO kinds of highlighters? No wonder they went out of business.
posted by deliquescent at 6:49 PM on November 2, 2009


I will always be thankful for the pastitsio recipe from Gourmet that was the scaffold I used to reconstruct my Greek uncle's pastitsio recipe after my aunt went crazy and lost his recipes. It was a great magazine until it turned into a travel and lifestyle mag. Conde Nast is like this vampire that sucks the life out of good magazines.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:11 PM on November 2, 2009


Recipe. Recipe. Recipe.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:12 PM on November 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, that look like an office. Well, with ladles but otherwise like every other office in the county. I'm sure that it was a great magazine but I'm not really seeing the point here.

I work in an office.

Our kitchen consists of a sink with no hot water, a mini fridge and a coffee maker. There is a full sized fridge, too, but it's not really in the kitchen.

Look at their kitchen.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:15 PM on November 2, 2009


No worries, boo, glasses have been cleaned and fonts have been set to a larger size.

*covers face with hands*
posted by graventy at 7:18 PM on November 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


So sad, thanks for posting.

It was bittersweet to see this cover that my wife shot on the wall. A lot of people had been talking about how Bon App or Gourmet had to go, one or the other, but no one really expected Gourmet would fold even though its ad pages were falling pretty steadily. There was just too much history there.

Octothorpre is right, the pictures are of an office. But have a little empathy and see where the author is coming from. For all the people involved, who consistently put out the most amazing magazine with the most beautiful photos, for whom the title was so much more than just another magazine, Gourmet was almost a religion.

I think one of the main reasons why it was so sad, Gourmet was something everyone aspired to. A food photographer's dream assignment, a food writer's goal, a chef's aspiration to appear in those pages, all the creatives who desperately wanted to be a part of making something that beautiful saw it crushed, and now what dreams are left?

The worst was reading Gawker's coverage. One person wrote: 'After working at Gourmet, waiting in the breadline is gonna suck.' Such a low blow. Thankfully a lot of the people are already moving on to other projects - New York just works like that. They made a beautiful magazine, and other people want that kind of talent. But it won't ever be the same.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 7:19 PM on November 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


I spotted an empty Fritos bag and a box of Quaker instant oatmeal packs. I'm going to be charitable and assume anything "good" got smuggled out before the pics were taken.
posted by gimonca at 7:20 PM on November 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, and publishing is mostly people in offices sitting at desks. Mad Magazine was something of an exception, because everything around Bill Gaines looked like a circus madhouse, though ultimately it was still an office with desks.

Only an office, but it's evocative. Definitely brings back memories of 2001-2003.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:23 PM on November 2, 2009


In graventy's defense, I too completely misread "with ladles" as "with ladies". And almost made a comment about it, but I decided to read the whole thread first. Thanks, graventy, for making the mistake and saving the rest of us.

But, working in a magazine, with offices not quite as nice, it was still nice to see these pictures.
posted by skynxnex at 7:24 PM on November 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


.

I will miss that magazine - I loved reading my mom's copy when I still lived at home. Some of the recipes will live on at Epicurious.com, at least I hope they will.
posted by bashos_frog at 7:27 PM on November 2, 2009


It was a great magazine until it turned into a travel and lifestyle mag. Conde Nast is like this vampire that sucks the life out of good magazines.

Yes, that's it.

George Carlin had a great line about that word. "If you want to know what a moronic word 'lifestyle' is, all you have to do is realize that, in a technical sense, Attila the Hun had an active, outdoor lifestyle."
posted by krinklyfig at 7:31 PM on November 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


Wait, Gourmet is closing? What does this mean for Diary of a Foodie?
posted by stilist at 7:32 PM on November 2, 2009


Hey, if they're just leaving all that photo studio gear, I, uh, know a guy who could help 'em clear it out. I'm just saying, I mean.

And that kitchen looks awesome. It's better equipped than most home kitchens, to say nothing of office kitchens. Whoever moves into those offices next had better make use of that.
posted by echo target at 7:46 PM on November 2, 2009


They could be pictures of any damn office anywhere, in any financial condition at all.

And those are all over the internet so much where exactly?

There should be more pictures of things that one doesn't normally get to see. Not glamour shots for magazines or a photography portfolio, but photos that really express a sense of place.

Boxes storing stuff, stacked in work spaces? Check.
Office workers filled with ennui? Check.
Empty offices? Check.


More of this on Metafilter than Today's Web Lulz? Check, I hope.
posted by setanor at 8:01 PM on November 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


My biggest memory of them is that their covers were austere with just a photo of something amazing and the title across the top
Gourmet covers. The masthead started to go downhill in April 1993 when they took the little loops off the 'o' and 'r' and put it on the 'g' with a shortened ear stroke.
posted by tellurian at 8:02 PM on November 2, 2009 [5 favorites]


There should be more pictures of things that one doesn't normally get to see. Not glamour shots for magazines or a photography portfolio, but photos that really express a sense of place.

Exactly. That's why this was a great MeFi post.

When did people become so damned demanding? "How dare you post photos of a magazine office that do not please me, that do not conform to what I believe an interesting magazine office should look like, that do not rise to the level of the Platonic ideal of what the office a snobby national magazine should be."

WTF, octothorpe?
posted by jayder at 8:20 PM on November 2, 2009 [7 favorites]


I hear things are booming big time over at Recession Magazine. Lots of openings, too.
posted by crapmatic at 8:27 PM on November 2, 2009


Wow -- if the kitchen at Gourmet is this nice, I can only imagine how luxurious the urinals are at National Review.
posted by jeremy b at 9:03 PM on November 2, 2009 [8 favorites]


While I mourn the loss of an old friend, I am sure the people being displaced from these offices mourn larger. It's like this everywhere. The number of jobs lost in the last year is staggering. What a time........
posted by caddis at 10:18 PM on November 2, 2009


I worked for a firm that went belly up almost overnight. Pictures of the office, abandoned as it was, would mean something to me. Not so sure to anyone else. Sure, it is sad to see these folks out on the street, but the pictures do not tell the story of what happened nor are they that specific to Gourmet. Maybe the bottles of wine, although if you looked in a lot of bottom drawers at my old company, you would see vodka and whiskey bottles I am sure.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:36 PM on November 2, 2009


When did people become so damned demanding?

Have you read Metafilter before?
posted by josher71 at 4:19 AM on November 3, 2009


WTF, octothorpe?

Hey, I'm sorry. I had no idea that how much Gourmet meant to you all.
posted by octothorpe at 4:19 AM on November 3, 2009


WTF, octothorpe?

You would get that way too if everyone called you a pound sign.
posted by srboisvert at 4:27 AM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I liked looking over the covers that tellurian linked to. I had a subscription from 1990 through 2000. I know because I recognize the cover from February 1990 that had the ravioli on the cover. Made that recipe a couple dozen times. I was able to browse through and associate covers with milestones. 2/1990: 1 month before first marriage. 7/1993: right after divorce was finalized, made that cheesecake. 9/1999: (Spalding Gray's Wild Ride): moved to east coast with girlfriend. 3/2003: my daughter is born, can't imagine traveling to Italy; now I no longer simply have no time, I have a deficit of time and I let my subscription lapse and recycled nearly all my old issues since their weight was threatening to collapse my bookshelves.
posted by plinth at 5:59 AM on November 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Wow, Conde Nast employees in Manhattan sure have it rough.

Surely many of these people are Conde Nast ex-employees in Manhattan.
posted by grouse at 6:30 AM on November 3, 2009


Hey, I'm sorry. I had no idea that how much Gourmet meant to you all.

For the record, I have barely heard of Gourmet, and I've never so much as flipped through it, so that's not it.
posted by jayder at 7:20 AM on November 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Awwww, man. I subscribed to Gourmet for years before we left the U.S. I used to pore over those issues... I remember, for example, how sad it was when Laurie Colwin passed away, and they ran her last two -I think it was- columns that she had completed before her death. I felt like I lost a member of my family.

I'm also sad that now I can't remember if I actually brought all my old back issues with me on our last move (in which case, I guess they'd be in our storage crawl space, which I'm too lazy to get a ladder to check), or finally threw them out as I threatened, weary of shifting all that weight from place to place, tired of trying to find a place for them where they didn't gather a ton of dust and stick out too far from the bookcase, and too accustomed to just browsing recipes online. I hope I'll find them tucked away in that crawlspace, because curling up with allrecipes.com is just not the same.
posted by taz at 7:39 AM on November 3, 2009


They could be pictures of any damn office anywhere, in any financial condition at all.

I'd say at least half of them are clearly an office in transition, and on the outs. The dumpsters, the shadows of pin ups now un-pinned, the boxes. A lot of the pictures could have been edited out, true, but as a snapshot of a phenom that's been affecting a lot of us lately, it's a worthwhile record. And when you know the backstory of managerial foolishness that helped get them to this point, well, it's all the more angry making and poignant.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:49 AM on November 3, 2009


You guys do realize that they had a nice kitchen because they probably tested recipes in it, right? They need an actual, fully-functional kitchen for that.
Anyway, having been through two magazine closings, these photos felt very familiar (though of course our offices weren't as nice or in Manhattan).
posted by chowflap at 9:23 AM on November 3, 2009


This post is important as synechdoche for what's happening to the magazine industry in general. If you've avoided Gawker.com because you think it's Perez without the cokenoses, check it out for its media death spiral coverage.
posted by everichon at 9:57 AM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't feel bad, graventy. I read it "ladies" so hard, I had to go back and re-read it four times before I figured out why you were apologizing so profusely.
posted by ErikaB at 10:01 AM on November 3, 2009


I read "ladles" right off, but maybe that's because my wife's taking advanced cooking courses this year. I'm not showing her the "Last Days of Gourmet" link, she'd weep.

I sure love it when she has homework. Yum.
posted by Artful Codger at 11:27 AM on November 3, 2009


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