Bon Appétit, What Are You Doing?

As a die-hard fan of the infamous Bon Appétit YouTube channel, one of the biggest disappointments that have made its way to the public is the story of Bon Appétit and its mistreatment of its employees. 

In June 2020, a 2013 photo of Bon Appétit’s editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport resurfaced. It found him, minstrels, as Puerto Rican in a grossly racist costume. A quick fallout subsequently took place, with BIPOC employees of the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen alleging that they were paid an inequitably less amount of money than the white employees. 

Right after, a Zoom staff meeting occurred where infamous Test Kitchen member Solha El-Waylly straightforwardly asked Rapoport to resign. If it wasn’t for her speaking up, Bon Appétit might have continued its behavior behind the scenes. After this Zoom meeting, El-Waylly posted about the mistreatment of BIPOC at Bon Appétit. It exposed them and Condé Nast for paying the BIPOC employees exponentially less money than the white employees for the same amount of work. This inaugurated a domino effect, and the Black and Brown employees spoke out, while most of the white employees allied and truly apologized for their bystander behavior. 

The Bon Appétit YouTube channel then became inactive, and none of the Test Kitchen crew filmed videos until further negotiation. Then, two months later, it became even more disappointing. After much negotiation, Rick Martinez, Priya Krishna, and El-Waylly resigned as members of the Test Kitchen staff due to a lack of progress in resolving issues with their contracts and equitable pay. They were followed by notable Test Kitchen members Molly Baz, Gaby Melian, Claire Saffitz, and most of the Test Kitchen members. It was at this point as a viewer that I understood that the Bon Appétit that I had grown to love was gone. This was both off-camera and on-camera, leaving Bon Appétit unable to rebound.

This past week, I discovered that the new Bon Appétit is one that I’ll grow to hate. This new YouTube channel is one that is promoting itself as one that appreciates and champion diversity. The revised Test Kitchen staff consists of mostly people of color. It is making it a point to stress that they will be “talking about food and culture together,” according to new Bon Appétit executive editor Sonia Chopra.

As a woman of color looking to go into the editorial industry, I’m disappointed and discouraged at Bon Appétit’s response. The channel was so successful because they already had so many diverse personalities and cultures working together. The problem wasn’t who worked for and with Bon Appétit but how they were treated at the workplace. There is no point in having diverse and marginalized voices if they are not treated with the same care and importance as white voices. There are nuances to representation and diversity, and that includes making BIPOC feel like they are worth the talent that they finally able to display and implement. Sure, BIPOC is yet being seen on screen, but they are worth more than just a couple of white executives' diversity points. Way more. Prioritizing BIPOC employees and creators means giving them rightful compensation to the work that they bring to the table. Just because BIPOC haven’t been on screen as much until recent years doesn’t mean that we’ll settle for incomplete “progress.” For so long BIPOC have not felt their worth. Progress entails being thorough in cherishing and saluting the very voices you want to represent, making sure that the voices in question know their worth and then much more. 

Bon Appétit failed to and continues to fail to understand the value and meaning of true diversity in the workplace and in creative spaces. The problem wasn’t that they didn’t have enough diversity. The problem was that the diversity that they did have was neglected and their diversity was prevalent for the wrong reasons. In their debut video of the “new Bon Appétit,” this attitude seems to persistently linger in the background, making it uncomfortable to watch. 

We’re unsubscribing from Bon Appétit, and in the meantime, we’ll support creators like El-Waylly who are making it big without the help of Bon Appétit.