The plunging profits of the Sydney Morning Herald kept its key executives away from the fading broadsheet’s biggest night — the launch of the SMH Good Food Guide at Carriageworks in Sydney’s Redfern last night.

Concern at falling circulation and poor ad flow meant everyone — except deputy editor Amanda Wilson and grey fox Saturday editor Mark Coultan — was at a strategy session instead of celebrating the good (food) news.

It may have also been the reason why Wilson gracelessly forgot to thank Simon Thomsen, departing editor of the GFG, who was not acknowledged for his contribution to the Guide’s strong sales of 41,000 last year. This 25th anniversary edition will be his last after six years of eating out almost every night and 14 years as a contributor.

Thomsen will be replaced by Terry Durack who was the winner of the now discontinued Glennfiddich Restaurant Critic of the Year in 2007; and was the restaurant critic of the Independent on Sunday.

Peter Fray, editor of the SMH, apparently approached Durack and wife Jill Dupleix in what he hopes will be a return to the glory days of Good Living — but food styles and restaurant eating habits in Sydney have changed dramatically since those days (and so have the spending habits of the editor — Fray is kept on a very tight rein by Lloyd Whish-Wilson).

Shame they couldn’t afford to keep former sections man Michael Visontay’s biggest coup — getting Bill Granger to deliver fresh food weekly.

The next thing they will need to do is cut the Durack review in half (he replaces Thomsen from next week) and get a new column weekly on cheaper eats (a tactic they used in the last recession) — written by someone half the age of either Durack or Saturday reviewer Helen Greenwood.

The idea that Marque lunch is a bargain shows you exactly how outdated the Herald‘s views of eating out in Sydney really are.

And it seriously needs to rethink its online strategy — as at 10am today, the only obvious link to the Good Food Guide was yesterday’s story. It took a separate search to reveal the winners posted at just 8am, 12 hours after the news.