Food & Wine magazine founder Michael Batterberry, known for his almost encyclopedic knowledge of all things food-related, died from cancer-related complications on Wednesday in New York City. Described by many as “debonair” and “endlessly charming,” Batterberry set out in 1978 to create a male-friendly food title that wasn’t about “putting doilies under every glass and plate,” said current editor in chief Dana Cowin. So he went to Playboy, and Hugh Hefner agreed to help finance and publish Food & Wine as a supplement.
Two years later, when American Express Publishing acquired it, the magazine’s circulation had grown to 250,000 (today, that figure has grown to over 925,000.) “He wanted something that was modern, aimed at men and women and recognized the importance of great chefs,” Cowin added.
Well known writers, such as George Plimpton, contributed to the magazine with a livelier style that was the antithesis of the stuffier Gourmet magazine.
Until his death, Batterberry, 78, was editor of Food Arts, another magazine he founded, that has its audience in the hospitality industry. He is survived by his wife, Ariane, who is also a writer and, following their marriage, they both served as contributing arts editors of Harper’s Bazaar.