Three Stars Quit Bon Appétit Videos Over Racist Pay Inequities

Nearly two months after the beginning of Bon Appétit’s public reckoning with allegations of racism and inequity, three 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.

Sohla El-Waylly’s statement on Instagram Stories.
Screenshot: @sohlae/Instagram

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.

Rick Martinez’s statement on Instagram Stories.
Screenshot: @rick_andrew_martinez/Instagram

“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.”

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.

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