Story at a glance
- Bon Appétit is in hot water again after several allegations of racial discrimination and bad behavior from leadership have surfaced this year.
- After weeks of contract negotiations, three Bon Appétit Test Kitchen video stars have now severed ties with that part of the company.
- A Condé Nast spokesperson said the video team had worked with each member of the Test Kitchen to achieve equitable compensation based on their role and experience.
Earlier this summer, Bon Appétit, a renowned culinary publication owned by media giant Condé Nast, was rocked by the sudden resignation of editor-in-chief Adam Rappaport after an old photo of the editor in brownface surfaced.
That was just the beginning in a series of ongoing controversies for the magazine — from public outrage over comments made by food columnist Alison Roman about two women of color (Chrissy Teigen and Marie Kondo) in an interview, to Condé Nast’s head of programming Matt Duckor’s resignation following an online petition for his removal which cited his oversight of a “discriminatory system that paid white editors at Bon Appétit for their video work, while their nonwhite editors received nothing.”
Now, following weeks of attempted contract negotiations, three of Bon Appétit's Test Kitchen stars are departing the popular video arm of the magazine. The three leaving, Priya Krishna, a contributing writer; Rick Martinez a contributing food editor; and Sohla El-Waylly, an assistant food editor, formerly made up half of the team’s people of color.
“After five weeks of contract negotiations,” Martinez wrote, “it is clear that I will not get a fair pay rate nor will I get a comparable number of appearances to my colleagues in the test kitchen. Nor would anyone share with me the specifics of the diversity and inclusivity initiatives in video that they claim to be working on.”
I'm leaving Bon Appétit video. Here's what's been happening over the last few months, and some thoughts. pic.twitter.com/L59blcESLv— Priya Krishna (@priyakrishna) August 6, 2020
The public first began to learn of the allegations of unfair working conditions at Bon Appétit following the now-infamous photo of then-editor Rappaport, after El-Waylly posted about it on social media, saying “I am angry and disgusted by the photo of @rapoport. I have asked for his resignation. This is just a symptom of the systemic racism that runs rampant within the CondeNast as a whole."
Many Bon Appétit readers voiced their support for El-Waylly following her statements, and fellow staffers spoke out as well, including Senior Food Editor Molly Baz and Food Director Carla Lalli Music, both of whom stated they would not appear in any Bon Appétit videos until El-Waylly and their BIPOC colleagues received equal pay and are fairly compensated for their video appearances.
Contract negotiations then began in mid-June, according to Business Insider, and El-Waylly received a new version of her contract offering a $20,000 raise from her salary of $60,000. El-Waylly previously said she was "insulted and appalled" at that offer, saying that many of her colleagues earned much more over time in per-episode fees.
“Over the last several weeks, the video team has worked individually with each Test Kitchen contributor to address all concerns and communicate equitable compensation structures, including standardized rate cards, in many ways exceeding SAG/AFTRA standards, for freelance and editorial staff who contribute to video,” a Bon Appétit spokesperson told Changing America. “As new leadership at both Condé Nast Entertainment and Bon Appétit join the team in the coming weeks, new video programming with new and returning talent will also be announced.”
Among those new leaders is Sonia Chopra, the former head of Vox Media’s Eater publication, who will be joining Bon Appétit as their new executive editor on Aug. 24. Until the company hires a new editor in chief following Rapaport’s departure, Chopra will report directly to Anna Wintour.
“We are thrilled to welcome Sonia, an incredible leader who has made widespread cultural impact through her passion for food. Sonia’s energy and expertise connecting content across platforms is unmatched and will drive the continued success of Bon Appétit and our food brands,” said Wintour in a statement.
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