Last Call: Ruth Reichl says Food Network changed “everything” about food media

Ruth Reichl
Photo: Keith Beaty/Toronto Star (Getty Images)
Last CallLast CallLast Call is The Takeout’s online watering hole where you can chat, share recipes, and use the comment section as an open thread. Here’s what we’ve been reading/watching/listening around the office today.

Ruth Reichl is a hallowed name in food and writing and especially food writing. She was the Los Angeles Times food editor, then The New York Times food critic, and later the editor of the late Gourmet magazine. She’s since written a memoir, Save Me The Plums, and remains one of the most respected names in the business. (Yes, I’d love to get her opinion on the hot dog/sandwich question.)

So if you’re a food nerd like me, you’ll want to read Reichl’s brief Q&A with the Columbia Journalism Review, in which she offers her well-informed view of the current state of food media. She recounts how, when she started at the LA Times, the food section was an afterthought. It brought in big advertising dollars, she says, but “the editor didn’t care what went into it. They were using canned recipes from all the food companies [who] would send in recipes.”

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What changed all of that?

“In 1993, the beginning of Food Network. Everything changed. An entire generation of children grew up watching the Food Network and thinking that chefs were cool and cooking was cool.”

Reichl’s perspective is singular in the food world, and her thoughtful Q&A is well worth the five minutes it will take you to read it.

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About the author

Kate Bernot

Kate Bernot is managing editor at The Takeout and a certified beer judge.