Peter Meehan’s Troubling Legacy at Lucky Peach and the Los Angeles Times

A comprehensive look at a toxic and flawed workspace

Peter Meehan and Chris Ying
Peter Meehan and Chris Ying speak onstage at Eating Out Loud at the Million Dollar Theater on February 2, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

What happens when a prominent figure in the food writing world turns out to have left a trail of toxic work environments behind him? An investigative report by Meghan McCarron at Eater answers a question many have had since fod editor Peter Meehan resigned from the Los Angeles Times earlier this summer: just how bad did things get?

The Eater article offers a comprehensive look at Meehan’s time at both the Los Angeles Times and Lucky Peach, the iconic food magazine he co-founded. The picture it paints is one of a mercurial figure, prone to violent outbursts, emotionally abusive behavior towards staff and unwanted sexual comments and actions towards staff who reported to him.

As McCarron writes, the personal and professional legacy Meehan left at both publications is deeply conflicted and contradictory:

Behind all of Meehan’s public success, however, were ever-growing ranks of scarred, fearful staffers who worked under him. Interviews with more than two dozen sources, including former Lucky Peach employees, current Los Angeles Times staffers, and freelancers for both publications, allege that Meehan’s management of both these publications veered beyond the realm of a difficult boss in a high-stakes environment, and into a deeper and more disturbing toxicity.

It’s an unsettling read in any case, but especially considering the impact Meehan’s work has had on the world of food writing. This also results in an article which is steeped in connections betwene the publication and the subject of the article. To cite one example mentioned, the Eater Test Kitchen is located in Lucky Peach‘s former office space.

This article is not an easy read, but it is a comprehensive one. And in a year that’s thoroughly challenged the “troubled and mercurial” archetype, it also speaks to a larger ongoing dialogue.

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