Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Bon Appetit leaving L.A. for NYC; Fairchild out as editor. And My Comments.
Longtime Bon Appétit editor Barbara Fairchild is leaving the magazine and the Los Angeles-based publication is moving to New York, parent company Condé Nast announced Monday morning.
Fairchild started with the magazine as an editorial assistant 32 years ago and worked her way up the masthead, including being editor in chief for the last decade. According to the announcement, after helping oversee the transition, she will be pursuing other opportunities, “including future projects for Condé Nast.”
According to Condé Nast spokesperson Maurie Perl, when Fairchild was told of the plan to relocate the magazine to New York, “she told us she was not prepared to make a full-time commitment to New York, as she has a lot of family in California.”
The magazine has been based in Los Angeles since its founding in 1975, currently operating out of offices on Wilshire Boulevard near the L.A. County Art Museum.
Historically, it served as the West Coast alternative to New York-based Gourmet, which Condé Nast shuttered in October 2009. Bon Appétit claims a readership of nearly 8 million and an advertising rate base of 1.5 million, making it one of the largest culinary magazines in the United States.
“The move of Bon Appétit’s editorial headquarters to New York is part of the company’s continuing efforts to strategically align our brands for future growth and to enhance efficiencies and coordination by consolidating our assets,” says Charles H. Townsend, chief executive of Condé Nast.
Perle says the fate of the current staff is still being worked out. “Discussions are just beginning about the transition and moving to New York, etc. As to the specifics of who will be moving, they were just told this morning and it is going to take some time to work out the details.”
[Updated:] Contacted at her Los Angeles office, Fairchild sounded remarkably upbeat. “I just couldn’t wrap my head around the whole concept of me moving to New York. I really like living bi-coastally and when I started thinking about it, there are a lot of different things I can do besides edit the magazine. So I may just take some time to do some of those different things. And who knows, maybe some of them will be things I really want to do, like live in Paris for two months.”
She says she isn’t sure how many of the Los Angeles staff will be interested in relocating, either. “The first news was this morning, so it’s really early.”
Of the decision, Fairchild says: “I wasn’t involved in those upper level meetings [at Condé Nast], so I can’t say for sure what the process was, but I think part of it is just sort of a natural consolidation of all of their assets in one place. From a business standpoint, I can certainly see how that would make sense.”
As for her immediate future, Fairchild says she’s staying on task, putting out the next several months' worth of magazines. But then, she says, she’ll take some time to explore exactly what she wants to do. “I don’t intend to sit in either home -– New York or Los Angeles -– and let grass grow under my feet. I could teach journalism, I could write, I could edit, I could help chefs with their books … basically everything that I’m doing now, but without having to worry about the next month’s budget.
“At some point after the holidays, I’m sure I’ll wake up one morning and realize that I don’t have to go in to work. Maybe I’ll go to Palm Springs and visit my sister for a couple of weeks. Or go to Monterey and visit my family there. Or maybe I’ll go to a villa in Tuscany.”
-- Russ Parsons
Alice's take: I worked as a free-lance Food Stylist for BA in the late 1970's & early 80's for great editors Natalie Schram, Rita Leinwand, & Jan Weimer and with wonderful food photographers. It was a grand era with style, good journalism, well written recipes, visually appetising photographs and a good budget! Things changed with a crazy, hard-to-work-for art director, irrational reshoots with no pay for stylist or photographer and too much control for my interest. I had what I wanted for my portfolio and refused countless shoots when the "young food stylists" couldn't re-create the recipe due to inexperience, etc. I predicted BA's decline in readership years ago when the internet surfaced and their visual sense of style became "relaxed, distressed, over cooked, burnt, pulled out of a trashcan" and totally un-appetising. Sorry to see them go, however I'm frankly not surprised. -Alice M. Hart