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What, if any, impact will the departure of Bon Appetit editor-in-chief Barbara Fairchild mean for Chicago Gourmet, which this year benefited from the magazine's sponsorship and presence?

Not much, Fairchild hopes.

"Quite frankly, I'd love to attend next year just a private person because I do love the city so much and I have relationships with a lot of chefs there," Fairchild said today, back in her office in Los Angeles. Early last week, Fairchild announced she was leaving the magazine after 32 years; parent company Conde Nast is moving the magazine's operations to New York.

Reflecting on the jam-packed weekend, Fairchild was genuinely pleased by what she saw as a successful event, right up there with the magazine's Vegas Uncork'd event, albeit distinct in personality. "I loved the atmosphere. . . This one had a wonderful air of almost being in a country fair but in an urban setting," she said. Now, now, don't take those as fighting words. "It's well spread out," she continued. "Even though there were 13,000 people there, I never got the sense it was crowded. Everybody kept up the pace."

She admits, however, that those long lines were hard to miss.

"Some of the food lines were really long, but that's what happens when you get Rick Bayless and some of these other chefs cooking," she said.

While the discussion over how to remedy those nagging lines unfolds, Fairchild simply offered this: "Maybe instead of reducing the number of people, what you need is more food."

Fairchild will be back in our big city/small town in November to promote her Bon Appetit Desserts cookbook.

7-13-10 podgo daley 33x.jpg p.s. Let's have more of this next year, shall we?! (Minus, uh, Mayor Daley. And Barbara Fairchild as Bon Appetit editor).

A postcard we've been expecting -- not necessarily looking forward to -- arrived in our mailbox at home today, two months and two days after the announcement that had foodies crying into their oven mitts.

"With regret, we have decided that we will no longer be publishing Gourmet. In its place, we will be sending you Bon Appetit for the duration of your remaining Gourmet subscription term. If you have given the gift of Gourmet, please note that your recipients will also receive Bon Appetit. We think you'll love Bon Appetit.... ."

"If you any reason you choose not to receive Bon Appetit, please contact us at 1-800-234-2046 for a full refund of the remaining issues still due on your subscription."

The closing of Gourmet naturally had me considering the relevance of newspaper food sections. Not that I wasn't already. Ads are down, budgets are down, the number of pages are down.

In a conversation I had with Ruth Reichl, the now-defunct magazine's editor-in-chief, I couldn't help but ask for her take on whether what I'm doing (and indeed, what she did at the Los Angeles Times before her restaurant critic years) matters. Here's what she said that didn't make it into today's story:

"One of the things that's incredibly short-sighted on the part of many people who put out newspapers is they feel like if advertising isn't there in the section, it doesn't deserve to live. But if readers are interested, it deserves to live. And there's more indication that readers are more interested now in food than ever before."

We're speechless. Gourmet magazine, the food magazine of all food magazines, is being killed as parent company Conde Nast trims fat and deals with the diminished advertising market. The November issue is its last.

We're shocked. Gourmet's recipes and photography are evocative, its columnists and writers gems. Under the direction of its brilliant (not to mention influential) editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl, it has never looked or read better.

We're saddened. We're not the hoarding type -- except when it comes to Gourmet. We have boxes, literally, boxes, of the magazine dating back to the early 90s in our attic. When one of our sports columnists wanted to dump a suitcase full of his wife's Gourmet from the 70s and 80s, he asked us if we wanted to take them off his hands and we happily obliged.

Here's the power of Gourmet -- it has been published since December 1940.

Conde Nast says it will continue with Gourmet's book publishing, TV programming and Web content (epicurious.com). This decision may make sense to Conde Nast, but not to us.

A few hot dog-related thoughts:

* Oscar Mayer, THE Oscar Mayer (well, actually the third in the family), has died at the ripe age of 95.

* The August issue of Bon Appetit magazine lists the nation's 10 best new hot dog joints. Among them (surprise, surprise): Hot Doug's at 3324 N. California. New?? The BA editors must be living in a time warp. Oh well. Guess whose line just got even longer?
Also getting props is Hank's Haute Dogs in Honolulu from Henry Adaniya of Trio fame, of whom we're only slightly jealous. In the last conversation we had with the man back in 2006 as he prepared to close the doors on Trio, he said he'd always just wanted to open up a hot dog stand, a really good hot dog stand on the beach in Hawaii, where he grew up. And he did.

* There are 23 more days left of National Hot Dog Month. Eat up.

Well, darn. Food and Wine magazine's always-anticipated Best New Chefs list is out and, alas, no Chicago chefs make the cut this year.

Speculation as to who would be honored this year was fueled by F&W editor Dana Cowin's own cryptic teasers on Twitter, building up to the shindig last night in New York to fete the honorees.

The Windy City did represent a bit last night -- Top Chef-ee Stephanie Izard was among those cooking for the event.


Bon Appetit's May issue includes a guide to the United Plates of America -- that is, the best things to eat and drink in all 50 states.

Such a list was doomed from the start. We can think of about a zillion edible treasures just in our fair city alone. Anyway, the magazine's picks for Illinois: Giordano's stuffed pizza, Alinea's 'scented pillow' and the Dr. Funk of Tahiti drink at Hala Kahiki in River Grove.

And you, dear eaters -- what are your picks?

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Janet Rausa Fuller

Sun-Times Food editor Janet Rausa Fuller is always thinking about her next meal.

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