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Condé Nast Denies Allegation Bon Appetit Pays Only White Editors for Videos, After Photo of EIC Adam Rapoport in Brown Face Surfaces

Bon Appetit - Adam Rapoport
Lexie Moreland/WWD/Shutterstock

Adam Rapoport, editor-in-chief of Bon Appetit, came under fire Monday with calls for him to resign or be fired after an allegation that the Condé Nast food title pays white editors — but not people of color — for video appearances. The charge came after a photo of Rapoport in brown face was posted on social media.

Asked for a response, a Condé Nast representative said it was untrue that Bon Appetit’s white editors are paid for appearing in videos while people of color are not; the rep declined to comment further. Rapoport did not respond to an email inquiry. [UPDATE: Rapoport, in a statement Monday, said he was resigning as EIC of Bon Appetit.]

Sohla El-Waylly, a chef and restaurateur who was hired last year as an assistant editor at Bon Appetit and has appeared in the BA Test Kitchen video series, said on her Instagram Story Monday that only white editors are paid to make video appearances for the magazine’s digital channels. She said she was hired at a salary of $50,000 to “assist white editors with significantly less experience than me.”

“I’ve been pushed in front of video as a display of diversity,” she wrote. “In reality, currently only white editors are paid for their video appearances. None of the people of color have been compensated for their appearances.”

El-Waylly said she was demanding the resignation of Rapoport, and she alleged that this case is “just a symptom of the systemic racism that runs within… Condé Nast as a whole.”

Follower her post, Bon Appetit senior food editor Molly Baz said in an IG Story, “Please let it be known that I stand with my family @bonappetitmag and do not support the behavior of our current editor in chief.”

Baz continued, “I WILL NOT APPEAR IN ANY VIDEOS ON BON APPETIT UNTIL MY BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and People of Color] COLLEAGUES RECEIVE EQUAL PAY AND ARE FAIRLY COMPENSATED FOR THEIR APPEARANCES.”

Carla Lalli Music, Bon Appetit editor at large, on her IG Story said she supported Baz’s position.

El-Waylly was responding to an earlier image posted on Twitter of Rapoport in brown face, evidently a Halloween costume, from an Instagram post in 2013.

That, in turn, came after Puerto Rican food writer Illyanna Maisonet over the weekend posted a text exchange with Rapoport about one of the magazine’s editors rejecting her pitch for a story about Afro-Boricuas that make regional rice fritters. The Bon Appetit EIC reportedly agreed “we don’t have enough [Puerto Rican] food on site” (but “plenty of other LatinX cuisines”) and suggested Maisonet pitch a story for digital because the print editions were booked through the end of 2020. In response to Maisonet’s question about why a story on Piñones (an area of Puerto Rico known for its food stalls) ran in the May 2020 issue, Rapoport wrote that the “unofficial theme” of that issue was “accessible, affordable summer escapes.”

Also Monday, in a thread on Twitter, former Bon Appetit staff photographer Alex Lau said he left the magazine “for multiple reasons, but one of the main reasons was that white leadership refused to make changes that my BIPOC coworkers and I constantly pushed for.”

“when i asked ‘why have we shot food all around the world, but haven’t touched the entire continent of Africa?’, their response: ‘oh you know, the recipes get tricky, and readers probably wouldn’t want to make the food,'” Lau wrote on Twitter.

Lau alleged that it isn’t “solely a [Bon Appetit[ problem. this is a conde nast problem. blame roger moore, blame anna wintour, blame all of the people in conde corporate that you’ve never heard of. they are responsible for creating this culture.”

Condé Nast, hit by the economic downturn amid the COVID-19 pandemic, last month said it was laying off about 100 U.S. employees and putting another 100 on unpaid leave for several months, among other cost-cutting measures. The company had about 6,000 employees at the start of 2020.

The backlash against Rapoport and Bon Appetit started after the EIC posted a letter May 31, “Food Has Always Been Political,” in which Rapoport said the publication would be “spotlighting Black-owned food businesses in cities nationwide. And you’ll see us tackling more of the racial and political issues at the core of the food world.” That elicited a response from food writer Korsha Wilson, who called Rapoport’s post “so f—ing empty.” She tweeted last week, “I personally know Black women & women of color who were gaslit, fired and their ideas used by y’all @bonappetit. Adam, what are you doing to fix your publication internally? Address that.”

The magazine Monday posted an article of Black-owned restaurants organized by city, which the article said is “one practical, actionable way to stand in solidarity with the Black community now, and always.”

Updated 6 p.m. ET with Condé Nast representative’s denial that Bon Appetit’s white editors are paid while people of color are not.