The editors of Plate magazine have never met a pun they did not like. These guys might make the headline writers at the New York Post blush. The most recent pun-tastic edition of the trade bimonthly aimed at chefs and kitchen professionals -- The Sandwich Issue -- kicks things off right from the coverlines: "In Sandwiches We Crust" and "Taking a Crack at Egg Sandwiches."

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
Web site:
BPA Qualified Circulation: 25,200 Foodservice Operators
Total Projected Audience: 80,640 (3.2 Readers Per Copy)

2 comments about " Plate".
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  1. Steven Mayer from Plate, April 20, 2009 at 11:46 a.m.

    Thanks for your comments about Plate. It's true that our editors have never met a pun they didn't like. It's also true that the recipes we publish include food cost and menu price information useful to professional chefs and restaurateurs. This is our core audience, and they appreciate the fact that our editorial is written from the perspective of the professional chef.

    However, it is not true that our editors are involved with advertising or that the editorial content is driven by the ads. Quite the contrary, we have devoted issues to subjects as far-reaching as Spanish and Indian cuisine, when we had not a single Spanish or Indian food advertiser. We do not accept supplied photography or include brand names in recipes. The placement of ads near relevant editorial is my work as publisher, not the editors'.

    It is also not true that we operate on a "petite art budget." We do all original food photography and invest literally hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to make recipes and menu ideas come to life in the pages of Plate. Chefs who have never allowed their work to be photographed by anyone else have commented on the quality and authenticity of our photography.

    Plate just won its fourth Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award, our fourth in five years, for our November/December 2008 special issue devoted to the subject of Bacon. The cover pictured a taffy apple pie with bacon brittle ice cream under the headline, "A swine romance." Previous Neal Awards honored our Mediterranean issue in 2004, our Sauce issue in 2005, and our Egg issue in 2007.

  2. John Capone from Whalebone, April 21, 2009 at 9:41 p.m.


    Sorry, I should I have made myself more clear. I admire the photography in Plate very much, and I thought the photos in "Easy Slider" were top notch. I was suspecting that the photo sharing was the other way around. The styling seemed so similar that I thought the photographer who shot the cover story took the picture in the Australian Beef Slider ad as well. Apologies if that was not the case.

    I did not mean to disparage the work of your art or editorial staff in any way. Quite the contrary. When I said the budget was more petite than that of Saveur (not merely that it was petite), I thought that was a pretty safe statement. Again, apologies if I was mistaken.

    Congratulations on your Neal Awards. As I mentioned in the story, they are well deserved.

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