The May copy of Bon Appetit is a must-see/must-read issue for all those who follow trend development in the culinary industry. The magazine’s new editor-in-chief, Adam Rapoport, chose a simple bowl of pasta al pomodoro garnished with grated parmesan as the front cover image.
It’s a classic dish but not a cutting edge selection such as one might expect from, say, Ferran. But be assured that Rapoport knows what he’s doing and why. After all, he worked at GQ (Gentlemen’s Quarterly) before being selected by Condé Nast, the parent owners of the Bon Appetit publication. And no one can say that the prestigious GQ isn’t hip to all that’s hot.
Rapoport recently explained over breakfast in mid-Manhattan that startlingly fast change has never been his goal. With over 1.5 million readers, the magazine’s new directing editor's principal objective is to maintain and then to expand subscriptions through an in depth understanding of contemporary trends and interests.
An experienced hand at developmental design, Rapoport quickly repeated lessons learned at GQ that one’s supportive staff can make or break even the most gifted as no one truly creates successfully in isolation. Soon such talented and experienced individuals as Christine Muhlke, formerly from The New York Times Magazine, were working beside him.
The first (and probably most pressing) problem facing Rapoport and his staff is how to stand out among the many spin-off magazines from the crowded field of T.V.'s celebrity chef shows. That other leading food magazine, Food & Wine, has very successfully co-branded with the Bravo Chanel “Top Chef” programing. And no one can miss Rachael Ray’s or Martha Stewart ‘s magazines at the grocery check-out stands, complete with nearly endless tie-ins to their daily television broadcasts.
So what’s Rapoport to do? In short, keep the best and then add the rest. For Bon Appetit, Rapoport believes that the positive starting point is the magazine's library of outstanding recipes, all tested and copyrighted. Add solid culinary technique, all captured in stunning photography that both defines and excites.
But Rapoport wants more. He wants snap and pop while always bringing the reader into the experience. Story titles will become more intriguing with such lead lines as “How to Drink Like an Italian,” and “The Real Baconator.” Writers (and photographers) will abandon the standard studio stillife shoot and move out onto location, bringing back not just the story but also the authentic “feeling” of cuisine and culture.
Will there be celebrities? Yes, but one’s that are truly interested in cuisine, not just those using all matters food and wine to promote their image (and their bank account). The New York Post is currently reporting that the next issue will feature Gwyneth Paltrow. One can only hope-hope-hope they are right.
Go for it Rapoport! We’re all rooting for you.
Your Culinary World copyright Ana Kinkaid/Peter Schlagel 2011