August 12, 2020: This post has been updated to reflect the latest developments.
Nearly two months after the beginning of Bon Appétit’s public reckoning with allegations of racism and inequity, multiple members of the food publication’s hugely popular Test Kitchen have announced they will no longer make content for Bon Appétit’s YouTube channel.
Priya Krishna, Rick Martinez, and Sohla El-Waylly announced their departures this morning on their individual Instagram accounts. The Test Kitchen stars — three of a handful of non-white talent to regularly appear on camera — have spoken candidly about being paid less to host videos than their white colleagues, feeling pigeonholed within their respective cultural cuisines, and being tokenized to increase the publication’s appearance of diversity, as detailed in a Business Insider report.
In early June, then-editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport resigned from Bon Appétit after food and drinks writer Tammie Teclemariam — who has recently become a leading voice in demanding better from food media and its gatekeepers — tweeted a photo of Rapoport and his wife, Simone Shubuck, wearing costumes and makeup that stereotyped Puerto Ricans. Condé Nast vice president of video Matt Druckor resigned soon thereafter, following accusations of racism, homophobia, and pay inequity.
In their social media statements, Krishna and Martinez both pointed to Bon Appétit’s and parent company Condé Nast’s failure to provide concrete updates on broader diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives within the video department. They also highlighted failed contract negotiations as reasons for their departures. “[A]fter five weeks of contract negotiations, it is clear that I will not get a fair pay rate nor will I get a comparable number of appearances to my colleagues in the test kitchen,” wrote Martinez.
“I was told I would receive a fair contract with equitable pay and opportunities for growth,” wrote Krishna, who revealed that starting in 2019 she had been paid $300 per video, and before that she wasn’t paid at all. “But it was all lip service. The contract I received was nowhere near equitable, and actually would potentially allow for me to make even less than I do currently.”
I'm leaving Bon Appétit video. Here's what's been happening over the last few months, and some thoughts. pic.twitter.com/L59blcESLv— Priya Krishna (@priyakrishna) August 6, 2020
Business Insider reports that the proposed contracts received by Krishna and Martinez reflect a new pay structure that included a base pay rate of $1,000 per day for hosted videos, $625 for videos with more than one Test Kitchen members, and $0 for videos in which their appearances were under two minutes. Per BI’s Rachel Premack:
The initial contract, which was reviewed by Business Insider, also guaranteed 10 video appearances per year. This differed from the contracts reviewed by Martinez that some of their white peers receive where guaranteed appearances total up to 60, he said.
According to Martinez and Krishna, this would have meant a pay cut for Martinez and a very slight bump for Krishna. Ultimately, they said they would still be paid less than their white counterparts.
When reached for comment, a Condé Nast spokesperson provided the following statement to Eater:
Over the last several weeks, the video team has worked individually with each Test Kitchen contributor to address all concerns and communicate equitable compensation structures, including standardized rate cards, in many ways exceeding SAG/AFTRA standards, for freelance and editorial staff who contribute to video. As new leadership at both Condé Nast Entertainment and Bon Appétit join the team in the coming weeks, new video programming with new and returning talent will also be announced.
BI reports that, as of August 6, negotiations are still underway for everyone at the company. Per BI, Martinez is “severing his relationship with the company.” According to El-Waylly’s statement, she will continue as a staffer creating recipes and stories for the magazine. Krishna told Eater that while she will no longer host videos, she will continue to contribute editorially to Bon Appétit.
More video talent resignations followed this initial wave. On the morning of August 7, Test Kitchen star Molly Baz announced on Instagram that she has asked Condé Nast Entertainment to release her from her video obligations and will also no longer appear on Bon Appétit’s YouTube channel, in solidarity with her coworkers of color who alleged unfair and inequitable contracts.
On the afternoon of August 7, Gaby Melian — Bon Appétit’s Test Kitchen Manager and one of the few on-camera chefs of color — announced on Instagram that she, too, would not be appearing in videos anymore. “After weeks of negotiations, Condé Nast Entertainment is not meeting my expectations regarding the plans to have a more diverse and inclusive video program,” she wrote, echoing reasons cited by Krishna and Martinez.
On the morning of August 12, food editor at large and Test Kitchen star Carla Lalli Music announced that on August 7 she had asked to be released from her Condé Nast Entertainment contract, after the company had allegedly failed to negotiate equitable contracts for her coworkers of color. “I have been supported and rewarded for my work. My BIPOC co-hosts were not. There’s no way I can go back to video amid all these failures,” she wrote.
I am leaving Bon Appétit video. I will miss doing something I loved with people I still love. Sharing is caring—see below. pic.twitter.com/lZRspAMB0q— carla lalli music (@lallimusic) August 12, 2020