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More Bon Appétit Revelations Continue to Detail a Culture of Whiteness Behind the Scenes

Bon Appetit test kitchen

The world of Bon Appétit went from being that of soothing cooking videos to watching as the show so many came to know and love was being exposed for the culture behind the scenes. When a photo surfaced online of former Editor-in-Chief Adam Rapoport in brownface, many started to speak out about the BIPOC employees and their lack of payment for on-camera work and more.

Since the picture of Rapoport surfaced, he has resigned from his position, but it has opened the door for employees of publisher Condé Nast and, specifically, Bon Appétit to open up about the environment surrounding it. Speaking to Business Insider for a piece filled with staff stories, Rapoport’s former assistant, Ryan Walker-Hartshorn, talked about how she often felt like she was seen as “the help” to Rapoport and pointed out that, one time, when asked how he wanted his coffee, he said “like Rihanna” in reference to the color.

From there, the stories go on to tell of a world where bro culture morphed into whiteness, and those chefs we know and love were forced into roles. One that truly baffled and upset me was reading Rick Martinez recount how he was often forced to focus on Mexican cuisine and then criticized for being a “one-trick pony”—and that’s not the only story like that.

Throughout the majority of the Business Insider piece, chefs spoke either anonymously or under their names about the culture that surrounded the test kitchen.

Nikita Richardson and Alyse Whitney were both part of an instance where Carla Lalli Music emailed them to reprimand them for going to the test kitchen (along with two white employees), but when the white employees went back anyway, there were no consequences for them.

According to Eater (and with reference to the Business Insider piece), Sohla El-Waylly received an offer to increase her salary after airing her grievances on her Instagram account on Monday. Not only was that not the point of El-Waylly’s posts, but it also shows that Matt Duckor (who is the video head) is not listening to the injustices that El-Waylly and other BIPOC employees at Condé Nast are speaking on.

El-Waylly told Business Insider that she didn’t receive an on-air contract, despite asking Rapoport and video head Matt Duckor — who is himself facing criticism for unearthed tweets mocking people of color and queer people — on multiple occasions, until she publicly aired her issues on Monday. An hour later, Duckor sent her a contract that would add $20,000 to her now-$60,000 base salary, an offer that El-Waylly said she was “insulted and appalled” by, knowing what other on-camera coworkers allegedly make.

It’s upsetting, but ultimately not surprising. The minute the first story broke about Rapoport, it felt like only a matter of time before we started to learn more about the injustices served there. For chefs like El-Waylly and Martinez, they’re both constantly creating incredible dishes (along with other BIPOC chefs like Priya Krishna and Christina Chaey), and to know that they’re not respected or appreciated while working for Bon Appétit is frustrating.

Yes, it will be nice to see the company actually make changes, but they actually have to MAKE those changes and not just promise Bon Appétit viewers they’ll do so. It can start with contracts for these chefs and their own shows.

(via Business Insider, image: screengrab)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. A writer her whole life but professionally starting back in 2016 who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.