Gourmet Live has been now been truly live for a few weeks. As promised, it's full of stories old and new, bold and beautiful photos, as well as recipe round-ups from the Gourmet archive. What do you think of it?
We're trying our best to separate our lingering sadness over the close of Gourmet from our evaluation of Gourmet Live as a new entity. Because it really is a new entity - it's not Gourmet magazine reincarnated and it's not just a handy app granting us quick access to the Gourmet archives.
There have been three "issues" so far, each with 7-8 feature stories. These features run the gamut from interviews with celebrities like Dan Aykroyd and profiles of chefs to food news reporting and round-ups of recipes. As you navigate through the articles, bonus issues pop up and are added to your library. These are usually collections of pasta recipes, fall cocktails, and other round-ups related to the article you were just reading.
There is some new content being generated. Serious Eats and Eater.com are contributing writing, as well as (we think?) the staff of Gourmet Live and various freelance food writers. To be honest, it's hard to tell what is new, what is from the archives, and what is from the archives with a new introduction. Maybe this shouldn't bother us, but we just wish it were clear when we were getting fresh content and when it's something pulled from years back.
Is it just us, or is it strange that you can't read this content on the Gourmet website? Gourmet Live is only on the iPad right now, though a note on the Gourmet Live blog says that they're working on bringing it to other devices soon. As an iPad app, it feels a little clunky. There's no horizontal view and articles are read by scrolling down, like with web pages. Compared to other newsy apps like the New Yorker and Wired, this feels simplistic and unimaginative. The big and beautiful pictures also often end up strangely positioned within the text, making them feel awkward and disjointed rather than welcoming.
The app freezes and shuts-down constantly, or at least it does for us. We really hope the app developers are working to fix whatever bug is causing that, because it gets old very quickly. Issues and articles load slowly and there's also no search function, which makes it a chore to find that one recipe you half-remember reading in that article two weeks ago. There is a new "favorites" section that we haven't fully explored yet, but even this could get hard to navigate without a search function once we fill it with more than a page of links.
This app is pretty much what we expected. The content is decent and engaging, though not nearly as rich an experience as the old Gourmet magazine was. The app itself is fun, but has some technical issues. Right now, it feels like Gourmet Live is still struggling to figure out what it wants to be - it's more professional than a blog but less polished than a food magazine. We still have hope that Gourmet Live could turn into something great.
What do you think?
(Image: Gourmet Live)