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Bon Appétit’s Adam Rapoport’s Brownface Picture Sparks a Deeper Conversation About the Payment of BIPOC Chefs

Bon Appetit test kitchen.

Bon Appétit has been a source of comfort for many YouTube lovers, taking to the Test Kitchen and watching as our favorite chefs tried to create masterpieces. But the BA Test Kitchen hasn’t been that great with diversity, and the story evolving shows that the onscreen issue is worse than we could have imagined.

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When an image surfaced of Bon Appétit Editor-in-Chef Adam Rapoport doing brownface, Sohla El-Waylly (one of the most talented chefs at Bon Appétit) opened up about her lack of payment for their web content and called for Rapoport’s resignation.

What’s interesting to me about it is that El-Waylly points out that she makes $50,000 as an assistant editor and that’s it, making no money to be in the web videos that so many flock to, while her white coworkers do get paid. Sohla El-Waylly’s reveal has prompted multiple chefs to open up about the fact that certain chefs are not paid while other chefs (who are white) are paid for their on-camera work.

El-Waylly even pointed out that she had more experience than some of the chefs she was assisting. And, if you watch the videos, that’s incredibly clear, because often, Sohla is the one being asked how to do something, or she’ll just do a task because she knows how to do it better. Wonder why? Could that be because she has 15 years of experience and yet isn’t paid to do the work that her white coworkers aren’t qualified to do? Mmmmmmm.

It even then drove the conversation to Bon Appétit’s lack of Black cuisine or Black chefs on the platform. Hawa Hassan was featured for two videoes for Somali cuisine and has talked about not being a part of the Bon Appétit platform and even went as far to post in stories about how she refuses to work with them again.

Alex Lau, who used to work for BA, tweeted a thread of his constant push against the white leadership of BA and how it continually resulted in nothing despite promises from the leadership there.

Right now, it isn’t about feeling guilty for your go-to comfort being the BA test kitchen, but we should all want the chefs we know and love to be paid for their work, and we should want the BA test kitchen to do better. Part of that comes with the requested resignation of Adam Rapoport and figuring out, from there, how to change the BA test kitchen (and the chefs they hire) for the better.

It’s one thing to show diversity on the screen (which is what happened with them throwing Sohla on camera) but there shouldn’t be a bunch of white chefs making all different things while the BIPOC chefs are often set on making food specific to their cultures.

Bon Appétit needs to do better. And that starts with paying its BIPOC chefs.

(image: Bon Appétit)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh.