In 2020, “Bon Appétit Test Kitchen” transformed into a space of scrutiny due to a scandal involving employees of color that described a racist environment at the publication. Now, HBO Max is drawing inspiration from the downfall and the food media industry’s toxic culture in a new comedy series titled, “Enjoy Your Meal.”
The half-hour series will focus on a cohort of young assistants of color who rise to tear their cookie-cutter corporate culture apart, according to The Hollywood Reporter. This synopsis perfectly details the explosive controversy surrounding the food site, which sparked several discussions on social media. Last summer, distasteful images of then Editor-in-Chief, Adam Rapoport, and his wife mocking Puerto Rican culture and sporting brown face resurfaced online. Soon after, a heap of allegations concerning racial discrimination brought behind-the-scenes treatment to the forefront.
Staff, mainly people of color, expressed their discomfort and disdain with Rapoport’s racially insensitive behavior in different testimonies. Former assistant culinary editor, Sohla El-Waylly, noted that Bon Appétit failed to compensate their employees of color for video appearances. Though multiple employees were involved in the popular series, members such as Claire Saffitz and Brad Leone became the face of the rising concept. With El-Waylly serving as an integral part of the ensemble, many Bon Appétit viewers and employees were shocked to find out she was never paid for her work.
“The Test Kitchen is really fun as long as you play your role, and I didn’t like the role I was put in,” said El-Waylly in an interview with Vulture. “It became increasingly frustrating to become a sidekick to people with significantly less experience than me.”
Another former Bon Appétit employee, Ryan Walker-Hartshorn, fell in the same circle of diminished compensation. Hartshorn, who served as Rapoport’s assistant and the only black woman on staff, expressed that she quit her position because she felt extremely undervalued. In an interview with Business Insider, she revealed that she was paid $35,300 with no increases for about three years. When she brought her concerns to Rapoport and asked for a raise, he shut down the conversation by telling Hartshorn that her job position was not right for her.
Now, Hartshorn will use her real-life mistreatment from the company to serve as a consultant for “Enjoy Your Meal.” More behind-the-scenes players of this satirical comedy will be “Insecure” writer and executive producer Amy Aniobi, record producer Drew Dixon, producer Galt Niederhoffer and “The Kids Are All Right” actress Monica Villarreal.