The food-media world, and its readers and followers, were up in arms last November when the New York Times reported that the San Francisco Chronicle was killing its award-winning weekly food section. With its recipe test kitchen and in-house writers, its well-researched stories and experienced editorial staff, the Chronicle's food section was an anachronism of sorts in these days of sound-bite journalism on demand and ever-shrinking newsroom budgets. But it was widely seen as one of the last holdouts of worthwhile, well-tested and original food and wine writing in a daily newspaper, at a time when more and more weekly food sections were resorting to canned wire-service stories and syndicated recipe columns.
For those of us who make our living as writers, too many stories of good content meeting death under the budget axe are true. But in this case, reports of the demise of the Chronicle's Food and Wine section have been greatly exaggerated. Instead, the long-running Wednesday food section has been revamped into Food + Home, a bigger, brighter insert into the Sunday edition of the paper, debuting this Sunday, June 29. (A free Food+Home preview has been posted on the SFChronicle site.) First imagined at 16 pages, this Sunday's launch has grown to 20 pages, a nod to both robust content and a vigorous advertising presence--each one, of course, feeding the other.
When asked about the combination of food and wine with home and garden, assistant managing editor Kitty Morgan and managing editor Audrey Cooper said their goal was to reflect the way readers live now.
"We're Northern California," noted Audrey Cooper. "We live outdoors year-round." When you can garden, grill, and entertain outside nearly every month of the year, grafting gardening and food together makes sense. At the same time as they're kitting out their kitchens with immersion circulators and Vitamix blenders, eco-conscious readers might also be adding bee boxes and designer chicken coops to their backyards. With more and more Bay Area dwellers adding edible gardening, DIY projects and seasonal cooking into their daily lives, the lines between home, garden, and kitchen are becoming much more permeable.