It gets better from there -- immediately. Editor Chandra Ram's letter is titled "More to Crumb." From there it's a short leap to "Best of Cluck" (chicken, obviously), "EGGing Them On" (cap emphasis theirs, with the bonus "Egg Salad Days" sidebar), and then we wind down with the back page's "Every 'Wich Way."
Now, it must be said that cheesy, so punny it hurts (sorry) headlines are something of a hallmark of the trade press, (and, I am sure OMMA would not dodge this particular bullet), but Plate really elevates this to high art. And why not? The magazine is aimed at the artisans and craftspeople who lead the food industry. The publication deals primarily with a chef's main concern: recipes. Unfortunately this gives it the patina of a poor man's Gourmet. The content is not appreciably different from a consumer food magazine (accordingly, Plate has been honored with the prestigious Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award three times), but the budget is.
Which brings us to the forgivable sin committed frequently in Plate. The content can appear to be driven by the ads, or so tied to them that any distinction can blur. As a magazine meant as a service to chefs, the pub can get away with this in ways that would be blasphemous in a casual cooking magazine, since the products relate directly to the readers' work. But some of the ads even bear the smudge marks of the editorial staff's mini-burger-grease-stained fingers all over them. Take for instance the main feature, "Easy Slider" (hey, if it works, it works): When you turn the page from the first spread, the next right-hand ad for Australian Lamb features a full-page bleed photo that echoes the picture on the previous page, right down to the fancy toothpicks used to hold the lamb sliders together and the rectangular plate they are served on. Then there is the matter of that tagline on the ad: "Slide into something familiar" sure seems like the handiwork of our new favorite food editors.
The word "plate" can be used as a noun, as most are familiar with, or a verb, as those who've worked in restaurants will readily recognize. The verb "to plate" refers to the act of presenting a dish to the diner -- literally putting it on the plate. Plate magazine is, of course, much more concerned with the verb usage of its title than it is with fine China (though that's all part of the presentation, too).
Still, with many fine consumer-cooking magazines crowding the newsstand, the primary thing that distinguishes Plate from Saveur (aside from the aforementioned penchant for punnary and a much more petite art budget) is a small section on all the recipes that gives a suggested menu price and a food-cost-to-serving-cost ratio. Now, this is very useful to burgeoning Gordon Ramseys and illuminating to the erstwhile eater (the ratio is 50% on a $15-rock-shrimp app, 25% on a $13-short rib Reuben, and just 11% on a $14-Asian vegetable wrap with sesame wonton chips). I could see my mother using this little bit of info to present me with a bill after a holiday meal. But for a chef looking to build a menu, the magazine-cost-to-value ratio is 100%. Of course, there's no cover price and no charge for qualified culinary professionals.
Published by: Marketing & Technology Group Inc.
Frequency: 6 times a year
BPA Qualified Circulation: 25,200 Foodservice Operators
Total Projected Audience: 80,640 (3.2 Readers Per Copy)