2013 September 19
Bon Appétit's Pamela Drucker Mann Dishes Up Her Recipe For Success
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(NEW YORK) Still missing NYFW with a hunger you can't satiate? The Daily is still doling out the goodies you may have missed during that whirlwind week. Read up! Pamela Drucker Mann might be the only publisher to have hopscotched between Condé editorial mastheads before selling out—or up, rather—to the business side at Jane, Glamour (where she played for both teams), and, as of late, Bon Appétit. Even rarer? She has her very own stylist! Drucker Mann dished on Wolfgang Puck’s grub, her Brooklyn dining haunts, and the joys of waiting for a table.
BY ALEXANDRA ILYASHOV
How did you make the edit-to-sales switch?
I was the editor that the sales associates would always take out on calls. I felt very passionate about each brand that I was working on. I didn’t want to admit it to myself at the time, but it came very naturally to me. My parents actually owned a sales and marketing company; I was trying to do my own thing, but I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! No matter how hard I tried, this industry just kept pulling me back in.
Many editors loathe that part of the glossy equation.
I loved going outside and being social! As an editor, you’re indoors all the time, though I did love the creative aspects, strategic thinking, and story brainstorming. When I went to the sales side, I quickly realized I got to do all of those things, and also interact with people instead of my computer. I loved the ability to constantly talk about something that I loved so much as opposed to just working behind the scenes as an editor. You don’t have to be passionate about what you’re selling to be good in sales, but it’s definitely a bonus when you are.
Do you ever miss being an editor?
That’s like asking if I miss my childhood! Yes, I miss my childhood, but it was time to grow up. I’m glad about the way things turned out, and I’m happy with the position that I am in now. I look at my past on the editorial side of the business as a stepping stone into the publishing world.
Were you always a super foodie?
When I was growing up, my mom was a great gourmet cook and my dad always enjoyed “restaurant-ing.” I grew up in L.A. when Wolfgang Puck was just getting started, and my dad was actually one of the first regulars to eat there. It was always about which table we were sitting at; my dad would always want to meet the general manager. My mom was very friendly with Wolfgang’s wife, so we toured all of his restaurants and ate all around the world. Every night, my mom would make an amazing gourmet dinner; she had lemon trees and a garden.
How has Bon Appétit shifted its pitch tone since you arrived?
Adam and I both recognized that the food industry was not just about cooking—there’s a whole experience of “restaurant-ing” and hosting dinner parties involving several other aspects besides cooking: lighting, attire, and company. This food lifestyle was something that real people were doing, but it wasn’t being reflected in any TV show or publication.
How do you jibe with Adam?
He’d also come from the fashion world, at GQ, and we were immediately on the same page about what we wanted to do with this brand. Adam and I really have similar taste, expectations, and personalities. We’ve developed such a variety of readers: Some cook every single thing in the magazine, and others don’t cook but want to become a part of the food lifestyle. Food is not an exclusive experience only revolving around cooking.
Was it a tough transition from fashion to food?
This is the easiest job I’ve ever had. We’re doing something that people love, and we’re giving people access to something they’ve always wanted to have. Similar to fashion, the food industry is constantly changing.
How did advertisers react to Bon Appétit’s rejiggering?
Rather well. I think advertisers respond best when they recognize an opportunity. We had an amazing opportunity: We gave advertisers an environment with a unique selling proposition.
We’re not just an epicurean brand, nor are we gender-specific, so advertisers are all able to find a spot within our magazine, because there’s such a broad readership spectrum. People buy into things that they want to be a part of, and we have created a food lifestyle that people want to experience.
In terms of marketing, what’s your biggest win so far?
Feast or Fashion has become a huge, differentiating, innovative, and exciting event for us. It’s also brought in a lot of advertisers that are unconventional to the food industry, and it brings chefs and designers together for dinner!
Could a fashion magazine have pulled off the same kind of initiative?
I don’t think a fashion magazine could have done it better or worse…but we were the first to recognize and acknowledge the parallel between chefs and designers. Just as fashion designers switch trends every season, so do chefs!
How would you describe designer-chef relations?
Fashion Week isn’t only about the designers: It’s become about the after-parties, which require restaurants or chefs. The day belongs to the designers and the night belongs to the chefs.
Who’s the chicest chef?
Most chefs would deny having any style sense! However, I think that all chefs have their own style that defines them. Marcus Samuelsson is a good example of a stylish chef; Jean-Georges is always chic. More acknowledged chefs have to be presentable to the front-of-house, and they all appear very chic.
What about you? What’s your shopping strategy?
I actually have a stylist.
Yes. But I definitely have my go-to designers and items. Stella McCartney makes great, amazingly fitted pants. Rag & Bone is very comfortable and stylish, which is important to me. Alexander Wang just has great clothes that make every woman look sexy. Chloé makes great accessories. I have more of an edgy style. But my stylist has allowed me to discover clothing and brands that are outside my comfort zone.
Are you a frequent “restaurant-er”?
I love to just wait and have a drink before I’m seated. On the weekends, I usually eat in Brooklyn. One of my favorite places is Antica Pesa, which also has a location in Rome. And I love Pork Slope.
You enjoy waiting for tables?!
Yes! I eat out all week with reservations, so I look forward to the experience of waiting to be seated at local restaurants on weekends.
Where do you love to eat beyond New York City?
Mexico and Malibu. My mom has a place in Malibu, and she throws the best dinner parties.
Do you cook?
No, I don’t really cook. But I love to make cocktails. I make awesome French 75s, martinis on the rocks, and Americanos.
What else has Bon Appétit been up to lately?
We relaunched our website recently, and we’ve begun a project to connect the food world to the music industry.
What are the worst jams to dine to?
Classical music! It’s too boring. It would probably put me to sleep.
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