Bon Appetit made a statement about all of the racist crap they’ve done over the years

The Bon Appetit controversy did not end with the resignation of editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport. If anything, the controversy with Rapoport – who was seen doing “brownface” in an old photo – just highlighted the racist nonsense which had been happening under his watch at Bon Appetit for years. Food person and BA chef Sohla el-Waylly was the one to break the dam – she used her IG Stories to talk about racial microaggressions within BA, and how she was not being paid to appear in BA videos, and she was paid less than her white colleagues, even though she’s better chef than them. As if we needed further evidence, someone did a montage of clips from BA videos where white chefs are constantly asking for Sohla’s help with everything:

Holy yikes. And this goes along with what other people of color say about the environment at BA. Bon Appetit and Epicurious (both part of Conde Nast) know that the problem is bigger than Rapoport too. They released a joint statement about race and racism in their workplaces. I was just going to do an excerpt, but the whole statement is noteworthy:

We, the staffs of Bon Appétit and Epicurious, want to address our readers, contributors, and peers in light of Adam Rapoport’s resignation as editor in chief. The deeply offensive photo circulating of Adam is horrific on its own, but also speaks to the much broader and longstanding impact of racism at these brands.

We have been complicit with a culture we don’t agree with and are committed to change. Our mastheads have been far too white for far too long. As a result, the recipes, stories, and people we’ve highlighted have too often come from a white-centric viewpoint. At times we have treated non-white stories as “not newsworthy” or “trendy.” Other times we have appropriated, co-opted, and Columbused them. While we’ve hired more people of color, we have continued to tokenize many BIPOC staffers and contributors in our videos and on our pages. Many new BIPOC hires have been in entry-level positions with little power, and we will be looking to accelerate their career advancement and pay. Black staffers have been saddled with contributing racial education to our staffs and appearing in editorial and promotional photo shoots to make our brands seem more diverse. We haven’t properly learned from or taken ownership of our mistakes. But things are going to change.

We have been seriously discussing what change can look like at BA and Epi and what we need to do to make it an inclusive, just, and equitable place. To start, that means prioritizing people of color for the editor in chief candidate pool, implementing anti-racism training for our staff, and resolving any pay inequities that are found across all departments. It means dismantling the toxic, top-down culture that has hurt many members of our staff both past and present and supporting Condé Nast’s internal investigation to hold individual offenders accountable.

Furthermore, it is our editorial mission to better acknowledge, honor, and amplify BIPOC voices. We will seek and hire more freelancers of color across all platforms and invest in those relationships for the long run. Our coverage will center, rather than patronize, the contributions of marginalized people. We will do the work of building trust with our BIPOC contributors and launch multiple columns written by BIPOC on print and digital platforms. We will overhaul our recipe development process to address issues of ownership and appropriation. We will audit previously published articles and recipes to ensure proper crediting and contextualization. We will also create research protocols to vet the subjects of our coverage; there will be zero tolerance for racism, sexism, homophobia, or harassment in any form.

This is just the start. We want to be transparent, accountable, and active as we begin to dismantle racism at our brands.

[From Bon Appetit & Epicurious]

In the year of our lord Beyonce 2020, we have white folks finally admitting that they’ve been appropriating and co-opting other cultures’ food, using people of color as props and only giving white people power throughout their organizations. I mean, it’s a good joint statement, it’s thorough and all of that. But Jesus, is THIS the first time they’ve realized they have these problems? What happened in past years? How long have these issues been ignored?

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When @priyakrishna saw Minneapolis restaurant @trioplantbased post on its Instagram Story that it was closing down on May 28th to stand in solidarity with the Black community, she called owner Louis Hunter (@louis_otf) to see if he wanted to share his thoughts. He spoke to her about his cousin Philando Castile, who was killed by a police officer in 2016, and how he's working with other Black-owned restaurants in the city to help right now. "George Floyd was a brother of mine. We didn’t have the same mother or father, but he is still a brother of mine. I have a picture of me and Philando in the window of the restaurant, and now George Floyd’s name is written there as well." Head to the link in our profile for Louis’s account. 📸: @portraitsfrom6ft

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32 Responses to “Bon Appetit made a statement about all of the racist crap they’ve done over the years”

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  1. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    How the hell do any of those other employees have jobs? They can’t do anything without Sohla’s assistance. Not mix, prepare, taste, cook, present…. Nothing! How embarrassing for all those many pretenders. The only chef in the room is Sohla.

    • Seraphina says:

      Favorites are always given treatment not given to others. Depends if one is the favorite for the color of their skin or being a YES person.

    • SarSte says:

      I have mainlined BA content for years and if you follow the videos/site, the “faces” of BA are actually all very good at what they do (except for a couple of folks who… shall remain nameless… lol). But Sohla is SOMETHING ELSE. There’s a big difference between “I know how to do x technique” and “I know how to do x technique AND why we do it from a scientific standpoint”, with Sohla of course falling in the latter category. I followed her before her career at BA (which was rumoured to have ended due to inequality as well), I will follow her the ends of the gee dee EARTH.

    • Amber says:

      I’ve watched BA for the past year…most of the people there are in fact good at what they do (especially Rick Martinez who is another person of color whom they had BETTER be giving back-pay for his video appearances). Claire is a very competent pastry chef and they give her difficult, technical tasks (such as making homemade Pop Rocks) so she’s often asking people for help. It’s just that Sohla is just on another level of innovation and talent. People in the YouTube comments have been clamoring for her to have her own show for months. Now I understand why that hasn’t happened yet. They don’t want her to have the same opportunities as her white colleagues.

    • CDA says:

      I’m pretty sure they’re prompted by the directors/producers to pull other people into shot/interact with other people. Sohla actually mentioned this, that they asked her to hang around in shots as a diversity push. And then they encourage the featured chefs to ask the other popular (or diverse) people in the room to help out so that they seem like friends and the parasocial relationships blossom for viewers and so on. The big problem here is that none of these “extra” folks are actually getting paid to show up and Sohla has been appearing increasingly often in shots or, especially since COVID-19, basically as the featured player in videos. It’s still disgusting, as is the “diversity push” element, but I think it’s misleading to think that most of these chefs are incompetent. (Claire certainly is not, Alex Delany might be.) Sohla’s been my favorite for a while though, and I’d been hoping they’d give her her own show. At this point I hope she gets a better job and gets paid before the whole place burns down.

  2. MaryContrary says:

    Have you guys seen Diet Prada on IG? They had a huge call out on Vogue, and then on a bunch of stores (including Anthro). I think more and more people are realizing that we have a responsibility to put our money where our mouths are. Also-Sephora has taken the 15 Percent Pledge: brands are being asked to pledge 15% of their shelf space to black owned businesses. If you do a search you can sign their petition-they’re asking other companies like Target, Shop Bop and Whole Foods to do the same.

    • julia says:

      Just stumbled upon his IG a few weeks ago, and he’s been consistently delivering, calling out brands/publications for their performative activism on BLM. They all jumped on the band wagon and posted a black square with the same marketing B.S speech, but he’s been calling them out by publishing the receipts and it’s amazing. Also, usually the comment section is filled with ex- employees’ comments and it’s GOLD

  3. vexa says:

    SOHLA IS THE ONLY PERSON WHO KNOWS HOW TO TEMPER CHOCOLATE OMG!!! I love Claire but literally every time there’s a chocolate episode, she needs Sohla’s help. Sohla for Editor in Chief!

    • Priscila says:

      To bem Fair, Claire can temper chocolate. She knows her shit but she dislikes tempering to the point she gets extra anxious about it. They even bought this expensive machine that tempers chocolate so that she dies not die from apoplexy.

      The ones who are constantly elevated and use Sohla every Damm time are Brad, who is very weak at technique, and, to a lesser extent Chris, who like Claire knows his stuff but is nowhere near as infallible as they advertise.

      • Cassie says:

        I like Brad because he’s fun to watch, but I agree that there always seems to be a lot he doesn’t know when he’s on camera. I think Rick and Sohla always have the best recipes, especially with the current home videos. I like Molly and Gaby a lot, but freakin Carla, Chris and that young white guy with the mustache whose name I forget annoy the hell out of me. They just seem so consistently pretentious.

      • goofpuff says:

        Chris is actually really good at what he does – I love his take on recipes (like his actual ones in print). Modern and interesting – he’s so very persistent and precise. I’ve made his food to great success. Sohla has said she relies on him tasting her recipes. I guess that’s his “super taster” ability. I have a similar strong taste so maybe that’s why I really like his recipes depth of interesting flavors.

        I didn’t like Chris that much until they did the at home series. I liked his chaotic family at home and him trying to work. It just fit with my own chaos at home while I’m trying to work.

        And I live for Sohla’s depressive snark and experimental brilliance.

  4. lucy2 says:

    You know what you call a person who everyone turns to for help when they don’t know what to do? A MANAGER. Pay her to reflect that!

    On a side note, Epicurious once bought some content of mine for their magazine. It took FOREVER to get paid the tiny amount they offered – multiple phone calls, handed off to several different people over the course of several months, long after the issue had come and gone on the shelves.

  5. Caroline says:

    The success of BA’s videos is as much due to the personalities and screen presence of the cooks they feature. As a fan of a number of editors such as Andy Baraghani, Molly Baz and Brad Leone, of course I had no idea of the compensation structure or how they were marginalizing people both on camera and off. I simply loved both the recipes they’ve made and how they present them!

    That being said, Sohla is 100% deserving of her own videos, higher pay and higher profile because she is a *great* cook and I’m so glad she spoke up! We only know her personality less bc they don’t let her come to the forefront. I’m hopeful the new BA will be even stronger once they execute these changes both in front of and behind the camera. People will be watching for it.

  6. MarcelMarcel says:

    I LOVE how Sohla referenced the crystalline structure of different milk chocolates. I want to buy her cookbook.

    Also this definitely not the first time a bunch of white people are taking credit for a black woman’s work. I hope she gets a promotion/ better job.

    And I really hope we are creating a world where misogynoir bullsh*t doesn’t happen anymore.

    • Resi says:

      Your point of course stands either way, but just thought I would mention that Sohla is Asian (Bengali) and not black.

  7. MellyMel says:

    As I said on the other post about this, as much as I love Claire & Brad and the other chefs, Sohla is the most talented person in that kitchen. It just sucks it had to take all of this for changes to be made. I read they offered her more money this week, but it was still low and she felt it was insulting.

  8. bluemoonhorse says:

    SO DID THEY PAY HER? Otherwise, STFU.

    • Helen says:

      It took me a while to figure out what they were saying with this. It sounds like everyone is paid a base rate. The white Chefs were then paid, essentially, a “bonus” for appearing in videos (theirs or each others); at the very least, Sohla was not paid this bonus.

      • bluemoonhorse says:

        Again – pay her the bonus. Otherwise BA needs to STFU. I am tired of the whole apology thing that amounts to nothing.

  9. TeamAwesome says:

    How? Literally, how does this happen? How was she not getting paid when other people were? Is it a contract issue? My brain just keeps spitting out does not compute.

    • lucy2 says:

      So many companies encourage people to NOT discuss their salary, will pay everyone as little as possible, and know that most people can’t afford to just up and quit, especially when health insurance is tied to employment.

      A friend of mine, in the same field with the same experience and education, was taken advantage of for years. She got paid way below industry standard in her area, worked horribly long hours with no overtime or comp time, got extra responsibilities when someone else quit, and after over FIFTEEN years of working there, asked to do some design and was told she didn’t have enough experience yet. I’d been doing that at my job since year 2. And she was always afraid to ask for more or be willing to walk away, and they knew it.

      • TheOriginalMia says:

        I read an article by a black reporter, who flat out stated that companies encourage secrecy in contract negotiations so they can pay minorities less than their white counterparts. If you keep your salary secret, then you’re less likely to demand equality in pay. The reporter encouraged everyone to discuss their salaries because to not do so is to aid companies in shorting you your appropriate pay. My bestie is a VP and I know for a fact that when she moves from company to company that she will research pay structures and benefits for VPs in her field.

        After watching that video, Sohla needs to be made a manager or whatever and her pay increased.

    • Dutch says:

      It’s likely a contract issue. Many of the white contributors were already working for the magazine before they made the big commitment to make content for YouTube, so the video work was above and beyond what they were contracted to do, so they negotiated additional payment to make the videos (or like Claire, left the magazine entirely and re-negotiated a deal to do videos). It stands to reason that as the video content took off, Conde Nast changed their employment contracts to include video work as part of their contracted duties and the more diverse staffers they hired after the change got the shaft.

      • goofpuff says:

        Its not just that. Conde NAST managers choose who spends time in front of the camera are who gets the gigs. If you’re an BIPOC and you are getting no camera time because the video producer gives all the screen time to your white colleagues, you can’t build a following and be able to break free. So you get stuck where you are.

        Christina was there for 3 years and she never got paid.

  10. Jay says:

    Sohla has been one of the bright spots in BA content this past year. I also had the sense that she got “trotted out” for appearances a lot, like they were trying to show how diverse the kitchen was by having her help the “star”. I am disgusted to realize she was not being paid for this work, and this has opened up a lot of injustices behind the scenes that, frankly, I missed or didn’t consider due to my own biases. It takes a lot of guts to call out your boss and your workplace.

  11. Penguin says:

    What upsets me about this is that every video is structured to be completely spontaneous where other chefs drop in and out to help, taste or chat. Particularly in Claire’s videos as they are the longest and most technically challenging. It never occurred to me that they would be paid per appearance in a video. If that was the case it’s an absolute disgrace that Sohla wasn’t compensated for those appearances. Regardless of who’s a better chef than who anyone making an appearance should be compensated on the same basis as everyone else. I think this was the same reason Claire decided to quit Bon Appetit and come back as a freelancer as they were refusing to pay her per appearance and they would only pay her base salary of assistant editor. Even so, 50K working for one of the top publications in the country and based in New York? That’s just criminal.

  12. David says:

    I hope this means that Gabby and Rick will get more camera time as well. Rick’s adult Spaghettios have the BEST meatballs. Just use the Hazan tomato sauce with it.
    Sohla truly is ‘out of control’ in the best way. Even her hotdog tacos make my mouth water!
    This crap will always happen with corporations, restaurants, etc. A good friend was able to keep their place at Tribeca Grill because Deniro’s twin’s mom called it out. Otherwise he would have been out because of ‘contracts’, etc. This friend is biracial.
    I’m glad that Bon Appetit is finally forced to address it especially since their base is online output now.
    Have friends that deal with this at Viacom/MTV as well. Bullshit. All of it.

  13. Jen says:

    I consider that broad list of offenses to make you a little more than just “complicit,” Bon Appetit. The apology sounds like it will be acted upon, but let’s not forget this is a vital PR-advised move to salvage a commercial brand. Some of the passive wording on this endless stream of apologies and promises the past couple of days is making me feel a little more frustrated instead of less.

  14. AL says:

    If y’all ever watched the It’s Alive video “Brad Makes Beet Kvass”, in the very first 30 seconds you get to see how obnoxious Adam Rapoport is. This was when Brad’s stuff was really taking off and garnering popularity for BA’s YouTube channel… and Rapoport has the gall to come in and make fun of Brad, who drew in tons of views already… sorry, bit fuckin’ salty – like what the fuck did Brad do to you EXCEPT GET YOU VIEWS??? Not to say Brad’s vids are perfect and without critique, cuz they aren’t. But wtf…

    Anyway, I’m watching all this BA stuff unfold and it’s just… wow. I was going to say it’s turning into such a dumpster fire – but it sounds like it has ALWAYS been a dumpster fire!!! We just didn’t see it… hindsight is 20/20, but I def had some tokenism feelings while watching the videos, and I’ve watched a ton of their vids. Yes, I am a rampant viewer. I know a lot of my millennial counterparts and Gen Z have really added to BA’s YouTube popularity – nearly everyone I know watches their videos, or at least knows about the BA Test Kitchen. For me, it was Brad’s “It’s Alive” series that drew me in. There has been some critique of his stuff – how he has made plenty of multicultural dishes without much information about the background of the food, and how he hasn’t had many guests of color/gender on the show (read: majority of guests have been white men). I think they became aware of the problem at the very least and had begun to take steps to remedy that – but they need to do more.

    It’s really good that all this is happening though. I hope everyone at BA can turn this dumpster fire into like a nice bbq cookout. I’m glad for the upheaval. It’s tough to watch as a viewer, but my discomfort is nothing compared to how crappy it all sounds like it has been for the BIPOC employees that have been getting the short end of the stick. God.. Sohla is AMAZING. I can hardly believe she’s only been there 10 months – she has such presence and skill and has become one of my favs to watch! Amazing that she does not get paid for her video appearances. Just.. fucking.. incredibly awful. PAY SOHLA!!! And all contributing BIPOC employees!!!

    • David says:

      They all have a ton to offer. Brad is incredibly talented and got their audience to tune in. Adam R. has ALWAYS been a douche and hopefully a new page will be turned. I’m coming to the BBQ with fermented pineapple cocktails.

  15. Happy_fat_mama says:

    Hey. If the other chefs are actually not incompetent as many people posting attest, then that makes their treatment of Shola even worse, because they are not honestly asking for her help, rather they are using her. And if these competant chefs honestly need help from another chef, then the professional thing to do would be to PAY SHOLA EVERY PENNY SHE DESERVES WHICH IS A LOT AND GIVE HER CREDIT.