Lucky Peach, the irreverant and waggish “quarterly journal of food and writing” co-founded by chef David Chang and former food critic Peter Meehan, has officially called it quits. Earlier this week, Eater Editor-in-Chief Amanda Kludt foretold the closure after learning that the entire staff had been laid off on Monday; yesterday, the magazine confirmed that its last issue would hit newsstands in May via a sit-down “talk” from “mom and dad.”
Since its inception in 2011, the magazine had an office and staff in San Francisco led by co-founder and Editor-in-Chief Chris Ying. (Ying left the magazine at the end of last year, and is now the author of a column in the SF Chronicle titled “All Consuming.”). From the start, the format consisted of longform articles, chef-focused interviews, recipes, irreverent illustrations, and essays, that tackled a different theme with each issue, from gender to breakfast.
Many Bay Area writers had bylines in the magazine over the years, including John Birdsall, Sarah Henry, and Andrea Nguyen. It was also an outlet for chefs and writers like Anthony Bourdain, Ruth Reichl, and René Redzepi.
Originally a collaboration with SF-based publisher McSweeneys, and intended to accompany an iPad app, the magazine took on its own personality and eventually split off (2013), launched a website (2015), and successfully entered into the world of cookbooks with titles like 101 Easy Asian Recipes. Over the years, the magazine won nine James Beard awards, and a National Magazine Award for General Excellence.
It’s a serious loss for the food community, the writing community, the reading community— all the communities, really, considering the breadth of coverage that the magazine accomplished and the writers who wrote for it. Here are few must-reads to remind you why it was worth reading, and a few parting words from Peter Meehan, written from the perspective of the magazine:
"I think it's important for you to know that Lucky Peach loves you and REALLY values the time you've spent together. Once it gets over its own internal grieving process, maybe it'll even be able to manage an adult press release."
America, Your Food Is So Gay, John Birdsall
Leaning in Toward the Last Supper, Sarah Henry
The History of Pho, Andrea Nguyen
Why San Francisco Is Better Than New York, Chris Ying
Why San Francisco Has the Best Burritos, Walter Green
Eat, Drink, Fuck, Die, Anthony Bourdain
Dick Soup, Fuchsia Dunlop