Bon Appétit insiders reveal details of upcoming Test Kitchen comeback video after 3 months of silence

Two covers of Bon Appetit magazine are shown in this photo, in New York, Wednesday, June 10, 2020. The staff at Bon Appetit, whose top editor resigned after a revolt by the journalists there after an offensive photo of him circulated online amid longstanding issues over treatment of people of color, said in a statement Wednesday, June 10,  that "our mastheads have been far too white for far too long" and the magazine was making changes. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Bon Appétit is planning its Test Kitchen comeback video.
  • After a months-long hiatus, Bon Appétit's video channel will resume in October, according to employees.
  • Employees familiar with the upcoming video said it will feature the magazine's three new editorial leaders and will mostly focus on the future of Bon Appétit. 
  • Condé Nast executives are heavily involved in the comeback video's development, rather the Test Kitchen's longtime producers and directors.
  • The Test Kitchen has also inked short-term contracts with at least three chefs of color. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Plans for Bon Appétit's comeback video are coming together, according to three employees at Condé Nast, the magazine's publisher. The food magazine's popular video channel has not released new content since June 5. 

While Condé Nast previously said video will come back at Bon Appétit in September, employees told Business Insider they expect the comeback video will not be released until October. The video will be shot this month.

Employees said the comeback video will likely feature three new magazine staffers: editor-in-chief Dawn Davis; executive editor Sonia Chopra; and brand adviser Marcus Samuelsson, who will guest edit the brand's upcoming holiday issue. All three identify as BIPOC.

"With our new leadership, we are excited to work together to build a new vision, new shows, and welcome both new and familiar faces to our audience," Chopra told Business Insider in a statement emailed by a Condé Nast spokesperson. "We can't wait to show you what's next."

All three editorial appointments were announced in August. In June, Bon Appétit faced widespread backlash after staffers of color revealed a toxic work environment and alleged unfair compensation. The brand's 13 regular on-camera talent pledged to not appear in upcoming videos until these issues were resolved.

Two of its top leaders resigned in June as well. Adam Rapoport, who was the editor in chief until June 8, and Matt Duckor, who led video programming for Condé Nast brands including Bon Appétit until June 10, both left the company following allegations of offensive behavior and racial discrimination.

While Bon Appétit's print magazine and website have continued publishing, the brand's beloved video channel, called the Test Kitchen, has been quiet since June 5. Seven of the 13 stars have said they will not appear in videos again, including Rick Martinez, Sohla El-Waylly, Priya Krishna, Gaby Melian, Molly Baz, Carla Lalli Music, and Amiel Stanek.

Six have not spoken out on whether they will return to the channel. Employees told Business Insider that the channel has inked short-term contracts with at least three new chefs of color to be in videos.

Former and current employees of Bon Appétit told Business Insider in June that the company pays employees of color differently than their white colleagues. 

Condé Nast has repeatedly denied this. In an internal email shared with Business Insider by a Condé Nast spokesperson, the company reviewed its pay practices and determined, according to its own analysis, compensation was fair and not based on race.

"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," the email stated.

A focus on the future

Condé Nast employees said the video will focus on the future of Bon Appétit, rather than exploring the brand's troubled past few months and the years of alleged mistreatment at the workplace. A small portion of the video will feature an apology.

Some employees at Condé Nast Entertainment, which is the video production arm of the magazine publisher, expressed concerns that there would not be enough recognition of the magazine's past.

They also said they were frustrated that executives and managers across Condé Nast Entertainment were taking the lead in producing and conceptualizing the new video, rather than those already on the Food team.

The move away from including pre-existing Test Kitchen talent — both behind and in front of the camera — in the comeback video may be a worrying sign for fans who believe their beloved channel will be the same when it returns.

Those who have recently departed the company said they don't think the Test Kitchen will look the same as followers remember it.

Sohla El-Waylly, a contributing editor at Bon Appétit who was previously a Test Kitchen host, previously told Business Insider that she believes the channel will transition from featuring regular editorial staffers to primarily featuring famous people and celebrity chefs. "I don't think they're going to invest in regular people ever again," El-Waylly said.

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