Reichl on ‘It Feels Like This Hungry Maw That We Just Can’t Feed Enough’

Gourmet editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl accepting her Matrix Award yesterday from chef Wolfgang Puck

Yesterday at NYWICI’s Matrix Awards, Gourmet editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl really did bring the house down by dedicating her award to her deceased mother who would’ve been 100 that day, saying “I dedicate this award to her because watching her helped me learn what I didn’t want to be,” due to the social and professional constraints Reichl’s mother faced as part of the pre-women’s lib generation.

But before she had 1,000 media women weeping mother-related tears into their mozzarella salads, Reichl talked with us about the challenges posed by bringing Gourmet‘s smorgasbord of food content to an online audience, saying that feeding with fresh daily content was “like wrestling this giant beast into a box — we have such an appetite to do more.” But what’s Reichl’s past got to do with it?

“For someone who comes out of a newspaper background, it’s so exciting,” said the former New York Times and Los Angeles Times food critic of populating her monthly epicurean mag’s Web site. “We just launched — we’ve been tied to for years, so it’s wonderful to have our own online space.”

But how exactly does that online space distinguish itself from the wealth of food-related destinations on the Web? “Well, it’s not repurposed material from the magazine,” Reichl pointed out. “We’re also a lot more political than the other epicurean magazines out there,” citing Gourmet‘s “Politics of the Plate” section as an example, where recent subjects have been the soft-shell crab shortage, irradiated produce, and a controversial pork producer, among other heady menu matters.