Rapo Resigns, Powell and Nguyen Gone, Conlon and Schroeder Accused, and more...
Family Meal - Tuesday, June 9th, 2020
This is going to be an odd one. Took me longer than usual to sort through item 1, so if you’re new to Family Meal, please bear with me. They’re not all like this. As far as you know.
Let’s get to it…
The Media – Headline in the Washington Post: “Bon Appétit’s editor resigns after ‘brownface’ photo and allegations of discrimination.” Quick summary lede from Emily Heil: “Bon Appétit magazine’s top editor, Adam Rapoport, resigned his position Monday night after growing calls from former and current staffers and contributors for him to step down. The outcry came after a series of damning online disclosures, including an allegation by an editor that people of color are not paid for video appearances while their white colleagues are — which a magazine spokeswoman later denied — and the surfacing of an undated photo that appeared to show a younger Rapoport wearing a racist costume.”
As far as I can tell, writer Illyanna Maisonet carved a dent into the dam when she posted screenshots of Rapoport talking her through a pitch rejection by saying the Puerto Rican food story / recipe she was writing wasn’t “right now” enough and didn’t fit the “accessible” feel they were going for.
Freelancer Tammie Teclemariam picked up on that thread and shoved a lit stick of dynamite into the dent it made by posting a 16 year old photo of Rapoport in brownface doing his impression of a Puerto Rican man for Halloween. The photo had been up on Instagram since 2013, and was sent to Teclemariam by “two other people in food media,” according to Kim Severson’s summary of all this in the NYT.
The dam exploded, with BA research director Joseph Hernandez publicly calling out the photo despite “likely courting internal reprimand,” followed by several colleagues, including editor Sohla El-Waylly, who said in her instagram stories that “Only white [Bon Appétit] editors are paid for their video appearances” (screenshots here ICYMI), and Hawa Hassan who used her IG stories to show the pitch deck she made for her own BA video series, which eventually earned her all of $400 per video and an apparently photoshopped inclusion in a BA team picture (screenshots here).
After that, you’ll have to refer to this Buzzfeed roundup from Isha Bassi for all the BA staff and fans who joined in to recommend Rapoport resign. Point is: This had obviously been building for a while, and… I gather his is not the last head to roll.
Even the summaries themselves proved problematic. Alicia Kennedy noted that the NYT summary called Rapoport’s outfit “a derogatory Puerto Rican stereotype,” even though, “It wasn’t a derogatory stereotype unless you think it was.” And Grubstreet’s Chris Crowley noticed that Teclemariam’s name fell way toward the bottom of that piece, to which Teclemariam asks, “Did [Sam Sifton] edit this????” Teclemariam is not mentioned by name at all in the text of the WaPo article, though that summary did score a point by noting that after Rapoport rejected her Puerto Rican food piece (and cracked this particular dam) “Maisonet later pitched the story to The Washington Post, which accepted it, and the story is scheduled to be published soon.”
For his part, Sifton’s newsletter this week (pre-Rapo-resignation) strongly implied new hires at NYT Cooking were imminent. We shall see.
And hey, if you are considering resigning your position in advance, Osayi Endolyn has created a template for white food media departure notes. You’re welcome?
The Consequences – Headline in the Chicago Sun-Times: “Abraham Conlon, Fat Rice co-owner, issues apology ‘for those I have hurt,’ amid bullying allegations.” Per reporter Evan F. Moore, those allegations came to light in part because employees were angered by his vaguely all-lives-matter social media reaction to police killing George Floyd. Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, chef Scott Schroeder of Hungry Pidgeon also faces bullying allegations from his staff, which also came to light after poorly chosen statements around the current protests. Details on that from Victor Fiorillo in Philly Mag.
And on a vaguely related note re poor word choice, Nancy Silverton is apparently blocking LA Times writers who called out her op-ed last week, which feels… unnecessary.
Some Sad News – Outside Chicago, “Hecky Powell, whose South Side Chicago-style barbecue restaurant was an institution in Evanston, Ill… died on May 22 at 71 in a hospital in Glenview, Ill. His wife, Cheryl Judice, said the cause was complications of Covid-19.” Obituary via Penelope Green in the NYT. And in NYC, “Anh-Tuyet ‘A.T.’ Nguyen was not a chef. She wasn’t a restaurant owner, a manager, a busser, or a porter…. But she had become, those who knew her say, one of the most important people to New York’s Vietnamese restaurant community — a mother figure and mentor who was a bridge to American culture for Vietnamese immigrants and a link between generations for Vietnamese-Americans. On April 7, they lost her, when she passed away from COVID-19. She was 64.” Chris Crowley has an obituary for Nguyen in Grubstreet.
And that’s it for today. If you see lighter news worth including any time soon, please send my way. I’m sorely in need of some good last and least.
I’ll see you here Friday for next Family Meal.
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P.S. - I’m on Heritage Radio’s Meant to be Eaten podcast this week if you want to hear me talk to host Coral Lee from Hong Kong. I had already gotten into bed (a few glasses of wine deep) on Sunday night when I realized I was supposed to tape the show at 11PM my time, so… fingers crossed!