It’s a mass exodus at one of Condé Nast’s most successful endeavors. Bon Appétit’s Test Kitchen has lost Carla Lalli Music, the food mag’s editor-at-large and one of the video series’ most popular contributors. The chef and cookbook author is the latest staffer to bail on the brand, which workers say is continuing to balk …
It’s a mass exodus at one of Condé Nast’s most successful endeavors.
Bon Appétit’s Test Kitchen has lost Carla Lalli Music, the food mag’s editor-at-large and one of the video series’ most popular contributors. The chef and cookbook author is the latest staffer to bail on the brand, which workers say is continuing to balk at calls for pay equity, among other things, for its employees of color during new contract negotiations.
“I am leaving Bon Appétit video. I will miss doing something I loved with people I still love,” tweeted Lalli Music, who added that she’ll remain with the company in her editorial role.
Condé Nast Entertainment, or CNE, the company’s arm that runs the video division, has lost six of its video personalities. They rose to celebrity status demonstrating cooking techniques and recipes in Bon Appétit’s airy One World Trade Center kitchen. The video channel, which boasts 6 million subscribers on YouTube, has been one of the few money-making successes for the beleaguered publishing company, New York Magazine reported last year.
The drama began unfolding in June, when Bon Appétit editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport resigned after a photo surfaced that showed him in brownface. Soon after, assistant food editor Sohla El-Waylly publicly addressed her low salary compared to her white colleagues’. That was followed by further allegations that Matt Duckor, head of CNE’s lifestyle video programming, didn’t feature people of color in Test Kitchen videos and paid them less, leading to Duckor’s stepping down.
“Sohla El-Waylly bravely spoke out about her salary and the racist practices that sidelined and tokenized her as a Bon Appétit video host,” Lalli Music wrote in her resignation announcement. “Her statements ushered in a torrent of information about failures at Condé Nast Entertainment.”
Test Kitchen contributing writer Priya Krishna, contributing food editor Rick Martinez and El-Waylly — who make up half of the six people of color featured on the videos — announced their departures last week, followed by Molly Baz, the senior food editor, and Gaby Melian, the Test Kitchen manager, who will remain in that role but will not appear in videos.
All video production ceased as of about two months ago, as many staffers refused to appear in them until their colleagues were paid fairly.
Krishna, El-Waylly and Martinez had been in five weeks of contract negotiations before their exits, reported Business Insider.
But the added pressure “wasn’t enough,” Lalli Music wrote Wednesday, claiming CNE was “unable or unwilling to articulate specific, measurable goals about diversity and inclusion among BA hosts, crew, show topics or recipe selection.”
In a statement to The Post, a CNE spokesperson said the company studied its video-pay practices and “we fully acknowledge the need to do a better job building understanding and consistency across our video-compensation policies. While we found that everyone was compensated fairly for video through their full-time salaries or other means as part of project or freelance agreements, it’s on us that our lack of open communication about video compensation created confusion. Our recent investigation also has not uncovered evidence that race played a factor in setting compensation for any video-team members.”
The spokesperson added that Bon Appétit is planning to resume video production in September “with some returning talent, in addition to new contributors [whom] we’ll be announcing in the coming weeks … We will be using this time to reset and work with the teams and ensure diversity in front of and behind the camera for BA video,” the statement went on.
“We are sorry to see some of our video contributors part ways, but we feel that we cannot break the standard compensation rates we’ve set across our teams now in order to keep them, as some have been requesting.”
Lalli Music, 46, alluded to her and others’ eventual departures last month in a cryptic tweet, praising the former staff of Deadspin for banding together to form their own publication.
Nope, no specific reason why I find this incredibly inspiring 😜 https://t.co/Qjg8X8szD9
— carla lalli music (@lallimusic) July 28, 2020