I could just tell the power lunch crowd was (mostly) all business today. The noise level was considerably lower than in past weeks — who needs your neighbor to learn about your next big move before it hits “Page Six”? — and the table hopping was kept to a minimum. It was a tasty mix of moguls (Tom Freston), talking heads (Joe Kernan, Star Jones) and EICs (Amy Astley, Jay Fielden) who kept things interesting.
Speaking of magazines on the move (onward and upward in this case), I was joined today by formidable foodies at the helm of Food Network Magazine, a joint venture of Hearst Magazines and Food Network. Editor Maile Carpenter and publisher/chief revenue officer Vicki Wellington have happened on a recipe for success: Give Food Network fans what they love in print form and — viola! — you’ve got a hit on your hands. Both women were part of the magazine’s launch in 2009 and have seen it rack up a string of accolades, including being named to Adweek’s ‘Hot List’ and Advertising Age’s ‘A List’ last year. “A lot of people told us we were crazy to launch a magazine when we did,” Vicki says of the 2008 prototype, but the numbers silenced the naysayers. The rate base rose from 400,000, to 600,00, to 900,000 in no time and hit 1 million in just four months. The magazine’s ad pages are up 14 percent year to date, and the July-August issue is their biggest ever, with 129 ad pages.
What’s the secret ingredient? “People watch Food Network 24/7,” Maile told me. “We found that we didn’t have to choose between being accessible and aspirational. The people who love the television shows told us, ‘Be everything!’ and we have. Every month, we have an incredible pool of talent to pull from, and we try to mix it up and give readers a lot of variety.”
Here’s an interesting tidbit lest you think all the pub has to do is call the network’s powers that be to access its squadron of stars: The talent “is not contractually obligated” to appear in the magazine, says Maile. But since its heavy hitters like Guy Fieri (the first Food Network A-lister to see the prototype), Sandra Lee and Alton Brown all love the book, there’s never any shortage of stars to grace its pages. It’s no surprise that recipes (all concocted in the network’s Manhattan kitchens) are a reader favorite. Because there’s such a hunger for them (sorry, that’s my last food pun!), the pub has a new book out, 1000 Easy Recipes: Super Fun Food for Every Day that’s sure to satisfy the busy cook. (There’s 44 different pancake recipes and 100 salads!)
The magazine also gives fans another way to connect with their favorite TV destination with its popular Food Network Lounges where readers meet on-air personalities and sample their cool concoctions in a chic setting. The line was out the door at the last event in Chicago where Anne Burrell met the masses at Jose Garces‘ restaurant. Another Lounge is planned for October in New York to kick off the Food & Wine Festival. And, since food is such a family affair these days, Maile and Vicki have cooked up (okay, last one) a special insert for the September issue, Food Network Kids, as a third cover to be filled with family-friendly recipes and activities for budding foodies to try with mom and dad. Get those cupcake pans ready now!
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
1. Charlie Rose with an attractive gal we didn’t get to meet. We loved Andrew Goldman‘s Q&A with Charlie’s cohost, Gayle King, in this Sunday’s New York Times magazine where Gayle gives her take on life in the morning with Charlie. If anyone can make a go of it in the morning on CBS, it’s these two. We’ll be watching.
3. Star Jones, enjoying a “heart healthy” lunch and some white wine with Lola Ogunnaike. The fabulous Ms. Jones, resplendent in her favorite Judith Ripka gems, tells me she’s busier than ever doing those can’t-miss segments of “The Professionals” on the Today show. A little birdie told me there’s big things on the horizon so stayed tuned.
5. Herb Siegel
6. Teen Vogue editrix Amy Astley, presiding over a table of fashionable folks
8. New York Social Diary‘s David Patrick Columbia and a well-heeled pal we didnt get to meet
10. Fern Mallis and The Agency Group’s Betsy Berg. Fern’s interview series at the 92nd Street Y has been such a huge success. She had a fascinating chat with Tom Ford last month and continues to reel them in. Next up: a conversation with Wall Street wonder Michael Kors. Don’t even try to get tickets — it’s been sold out for two weeks!
11. Hearst’s David Carey
14. Town & Country‘s editor Jay Fielden, who, we’ve noticed, has been coming to Wednesday lunch with increasing frequency. This can only mean things are good at the reinvigorated Hearst title. We love your editor’s letter, and the latest edition on the lure of summer camp is fabulous!
16. Uber agent Rob Weisbach and his colleague Erin Cox with author Mike Scotti (who I met in this very room through his good friend Gerry Byrne), celebrating the publication of his new book, The Blue Cascade: A Memoir of Life After War. Congrats!
20. Estee Lauder’s Alexandra Trower, looking chic in all black
21. Quest’s Chris Meigher with Warburg’s Richard Steinberg, who finds real estate-obsessed millionaires the perfect penthouse, loft and country house on HGTV’s Selling New York. We never miss that show!
23. Bingham & McCutchen’s Joel Moser
25. Author Andrew Tobias who, in his spare time, is treasurer of the DNC
26. Vidicom’s Christy Ferer
28. The Argus Group’s Maureen Reidy
Please send comments and corrections to LUNCH at MEDIABISTRO dot COM.
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