Is this the end of Bon Appétit’s Test Kitchen? In simultaneous statements released today on Twitter and Instagram, Priya Krishna, Sohla El-Waylly, and Rick Martinez announced that they’ve left the publication’s enormously popular video series. The decision comes after negotiations with Condé Nast Entertainment for more equitable pay, which the company’s video leadership promised but which Krishna says was just “lip service.” In a post on Twitter, she instead calls the past few months “disappointing and insulting.”
Speaking to Business Insider, Martinez says the contract he was offered would’ve been a pay cut. Krishna says she would’ve received a slight pay raise, but both say that they would still be paid less than their white peers, and that their contracts would only guarantee ten video appearances. Martinez says contracts for some white Test Kitchen employees guarantee up to 60. Speaking on the topic of increased visibility for people of color in media, El-Waylly tells Insider, “Condé is a bit conservative … Maybe they’ll do it in five years after someone else makes it cool.”
Krishna and El-Waylly will still work on Bon Appétit’s print product. In a separate announcement today, Condé Nast revealed that it has appointed Sonia Chopra, from Eater, to be the magazine’s new executive editor and that an announcement on the new editor-in-chief is still forthcoming.
Bon Appétit has been in a state of turmoil and reckoning since its previous editor-in-chief, Adam Rapoport, resigned in June. Rapoport stepped down after wine professional and journalist Tammie Teclemariam shared an old photo of him dressed in brownface. The photo became public after writer Illyanna Maisonet shared an exchange she had with Rapoport about a pitch for a story about Puerto Rican food. Following Rapoport’s resignation, Matt Duckor, who was one of the leaders behind the Test Kitchen videos, also departed. He was criticized by BIPOC employees for unequal compensation and for creating an environment that discouraged diversity.
The photo sparked a broader conversation about the publication’s problems with diversity and race. El-Waylly — who was the first to call for Rapoport to resign — raised the issue of unequal pay and alleged that “only the white editors are paid for their video appearances.” The illusion that Test Kitchen is the rare happy place to work, as it was perceived to be by so many, was swiftly undone.
Speaking with BuzzFeed, El-Waylly said that when she was hired she wasn’t required to go on camera, but her responsibilities were expanded and she was asked to “stand in the background” while videos were being shot. Krishna and Martinez also publicly called out Rapoport, and all three spoke to Business Insider about a toxic culture within BA’s offices. At the time, other Test Kitchen stars said they would not appear in videos until issues of compensation were addressed. In late June, Condé Nast suspended video editor Matt Hunziker, who had been critical of the company on social media.