“When we built these kitchens a year and a half ago, there was nothing else like it in the country,” Mr. Lewis said. “We even have an outdoor kitchen there.”
Around the time the complex opened, Time was moving out of its longtime home in the Time-Life Building at Rockefeller Center, and as part of that move, Food & Wine got a new test kitchen and photography studios in Lower Manhattan. Mr. Lewis said that those operations would remain after the magazine moves to Alabama, and that the magazine’s digital team would stay in New York.
Ruth Reichl, the former New York Times restaurant critic, who was the editor of Gourmet magazine when it closed in 2009, said it made sense for Time to consolidate its food publications in Birmingham, where costs are cheaper.
“This is something the New York-centric food world is going to be facing more and more,” Ms. Reichl said. “I was in Charleston for the food and wine festival and talking with Andrew Carmellini” — the New York chef and restaurateur — “who said half the people he’d bumped into were his former employees. No one can afford to open a restaurant in New York anymore.”
Ms. Reichl said the Birmingham complex will put Food & Wine on the cutting edge of what’s happening digitally in food publishing. “Food 52 and Eater are just taking over that space, and they’re building audiences fast,” she said. “If you’re a legacy magazine, you’d better figure out a way to do things that are more original, and you need resources to do that.”
Time has parked its “digital food desk” in the Birmingham complex. The desk aims to steer collaboration and promotion for all the company’s food-related content. It is led by Stacey Rivera, who came to Time Inc. from Bon Appétit, Condé Nast’s flagship food magazine and the umbrella for its recipe website, Epicurious. (Ms. Rivera also got a promotion; her title is now digital director, food, for Time Inc.)