Nearly two months after Bon Appétit staff members publicly vowed to work to dismantle racism within their ranks, the magazine’s video series has lost three prominent employees of color. Priya Krishna, Sohla El-Waylly and Rick Martinez announced Thursday that they are leaving the popular Test Kitchen series after undergoing weeks of unsuccessful contract negotiations.
The news arrived as Condé Nast, which owns Bon Appétit, named Sonia Chopra, a former managing editor at Vox Media’s Eater, as the magazine’s new executive editor.
In a statement shared on social channels, Krishna, a contributor, referred to the promises Bon Appétit leadership made amid the public reckoning as “lip service.”
“I am grateful for the platform Bon Appétit video gave me,” she wrote. “But I refuse to be a part of a system that takes advantage of me, while insisting I should be grateful for scraps. This happens far too often, to too many people of color, many of whom do not have the privilege to walk away from a s—ty situation.”
A Condé Nast spokesperson shared a statement Thursday with The Washington Post that said for the past several weeks, the Bon Appétit video team had “worked individually with each Test Kitchen contributor to address all concerns and communicate equitable compensation structures.”
Inequitable treatment at Bon Appétit was first publicized in June, when former and current staffers and contributors alleged racial discrimination, whether in compensation or the work itself. Many called for the publication’s top editor, Adam Rapoport, to resign. He did so days later after a photo of him in a racist Halloween costume resurfaced online. His assistant, Ryan Walker-Hartshorn, a Black woman, also said he treated her like “the help.”
El-Waylly, an assistant editor, was the first to call for Rapoport’s resignation and accused the magazine of paying only White editors for appearing in the Test Kitchen videos: “I’ve been pushed in front of video as a display of diversity,” she wrote on Instagram. “None of the people of color were compensated.”
She also disclosed that, despite being a former chef and restaurateur, she was hired at a $50,000 salary to assist White editors with far less experience.
On Thursday, El-Waylly limited her departure announcement to an Instagram story slide. But she expanded in an interview with Business Insider, stating that a new contract offer from June 8 included a raise but still didn’t come close to what her White co-workers earned. She notified Condé Nast within two weeks that she would no longer appear in Bon Appétit videos.
Krishna and Martinez, a senior food editor, were in contract negotiations for five weeks, according to Business Insider. They reportedly received offers that would have guaranteed 10 video appearances per year at rates lower than those offered to some White counterparts, who were guaranteed up to 60 appearances. According to The New York Times, El-Waylly, Martinez and Krishna “indicated that they have not left the magazine.”
Martinez called the negotiating process “torturous and dehumanizing” on his Instagram story. He told Business Insider that the offer he received was “mind-boggling,” and that “the only thing I can work out in my head is that the sanctity of the institution is more important than some of the people who work there.”
Both Krishna and El-Waylly have spoken out about feeling tokenized in videos. Alex Lau, a longtime staff photographer who left Bon Appétit last year, tweeted a lengthy thread about how such racial insensitivities extended to the magazine’s highlighted recipes and stories. One of the main reasons behind Lau’s departure, he wrote, “was that white leadership refused to make changes that my BIPOC co-workers and I constantly pushed for.”
In her statement on Thursday, Krishna wrote that she had several times expressed concerns about how non-White members of the Test Kitchen were “carelessly framed as monolithic experts for their communities,” but that most complaints were “brushed under the rug or actively ignored.”
She concluded by sharing advice to non-White peers.
“Don’t settle,” she wrote. “Recognize your worth — these publications need us more than we need them.”
More from Voraciously