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[UPDATED] Bon Appetit leaving L.A. for NYC; Fairchild out as editor

Fairchild 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

RELATED: Read our November 2009 profile -- “Bon Appetit's leading lady: Barbara Fairchild”

For the record: An earlier version of this post mistakenly said the magazine has been based in Los Angeles since its founding in 1970. It started in 1975.

Photo of Barbara Fairchild by Ann Johansson / For The Times

 
Comments () | Archives (14)

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The actual starting of Bon Appétit is the subject of some disagreement. There was a magazine called Bon Appetit that had been published by Jones in Kansas City, but when Knapp started its food magazine in 1970, they bought the name only. Since otherwise it was an entirely different publication, it does seem fair to date it to 1970.

Umm, I do believe that Bon Appetit was founded in Kansas City, Missouri in 1956 by owner, editor and publisher M. Frank Jones.

Barbara will always be successful no matter where she goes or what she does. Her work speaks for itself. I have always admired and respected her. She is an amazing women and I love her. Thank you Barbara for giving us such wonderful magazine to enjoy.

Bon Appetit was the first cooking magazine I received and it changed my life. I will certainly miss Barbara and her wonderful influence. Thank you for your hard work and dedication! You will be missed!
Debbie Gore, Grapevine Texas

Oh no! I'm sure that Ms. Fairchild will go on to do great things, but I love Bon Appetit and she will certainly be missed.

(sniff)

Meeting Barbara several years ago was a real highlight to this freelance food writer (and regular reader of BA since long before she was editor). It seems, from this interview, that she is accepting the changes better than I am! My best wishes to her and to all the staff, whether they choose to move with the magazine or move on.

The history of Bon Appetit is a little confusing. There was a magazine called Bon Appetit that was published out of Kansas City in the 1950s. But, according the magazine, when Knapp Communications started the current version in 1975, it bought just the name of the original. Since there is nothing else in common, it seems fair to credit this as the official start.

The magazine will never be the same without Barbara; she is a an icon in her own right and made the magazine what it is today.

At the same time, I know that whatever she does next will be just as important, if not more.

Umm... Bon Appétit was started in 1956, not 1975 (or 1970), and in Kansas City, not Los Angeles.

macgeekmom,

I agree that it's lamentable that 100 well-paying jobs are disappearing from the L.A. economy. but I don't believe that the Mayor's office could have done anything to prevent them from going in the case of these two magazines in the same way that it was helpless to prevent Northrop-Grumman headquarters from relocating. These moves were simply about corporate consolidation. Recent research reveals that one tenth of one percent of California's job market is affected by relocations each year. There are also a bunch of magazine startups in L.A. each year, helping to offset these losses. ;-)

I too lament the passing of Gourmet. When Conde Nast killed it, they said it was because Bon Appetit had more subscribers than Gourmet. I only have a subscription to Bon Appetit because it was offered to me when I tried to cancel my L.A. Times subscription.

Take a break Barbara, you've not only earned it - you deserve it. Conde Naste may move, but we are glad you are not. You're the best.

With Architectural Digest having been pulled back to NY last month, this means more than 100 middle class jobs leaving the LA economy. Would have been nice if someone from the Mayor's staff had shown some interest in keeping business here.

I'm still in mourning for Gourmet Magazine. Bon Appetit doesn't hold a candle to it.


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