Dawn Davis Named as Bon Appétit's New Editor in Chief, Becoming First Black Woman to Hold Position

Bon Appétit has a new editor in chief.

Dawn Davis, an industry veteran with over two decades of experience under her belt, will be officially joining the publication on November 2, according to a press release from Condé Nast. Davis will be the thirteenth editor in chief to lead the brand, and the first Black woman to do so.

Davis will also be the third-ever Black editor in chief of a Condé Nast print publication, according to The New York Times.

Throughout her career, Davis has “championed and elevated underrepresented voices,” Conde Nast said in their release. She most recently served as vice president and publisher of 37 Ink, the Simon & Shuster imprint she founded, which focuses on publishing diverse stories. Davis is also an “avid home cook” and wrote 1999’s If You Can Stand the Heat: Tales from Chefs and Restaurateurs.

“Like the Bon Appétit brand, I see food at the epicenter of all we do. Food is connected to community and culture, economics and family. Decisions about what we eat and with whom, who produces our food and how, influences almost every aspect of our lives,” she said in a press release.

“I look forward to working with both the talented team at Bon Appétit and with writers and tastemakers to create an array of intriguing and inclusive recipes and stories about the intersections between food and family, culture and commerce for our audiences,” she added.

The announcement came two months after previous editor Adam Rapoport resigned following outrage over a resurfaced racially insensitive photograph, which led staff members to speak out about accusations of racial discrimination and unfair treatment towards people of color.

After Rappaport’s resignation in June, Bon Appétit admitted that the publication has been "complicit" in focusing on a "white-centric viewpoint" within its brand.

"Our mastheads have been far too white for far too long. As a result, the recipes, stories, and people we’ve highlighted have too often come from a white-centric viewpoint," the brand wrote in a statement. "At times we have treated non-white stories as 'not newsworthy' or 'trendy.' Other times we have appropriated, co-opted, and Columbused them."

Moving forward, the food magazine said they would prioritize “people of color for the editor in chief candidate pool” and resolve “any pay inequities.”

Rapoport has also issued his own apology, saying he was "deeply sorry."

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A message from the Bon Appétit and Epicurious staff.

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Prior to Rapoport's departure, several Bon Appétit staff members spoke out, noting that the problem was bigger than the recent controversy.

Assistant editor Sohla El-Waylly wrote on her Instagram Story at the time that she was paid less than white coworkers with "significantly less" experience and that she was "pushed in front of video as a display of diversity." She also claimed that white editors are paid for on-camera appearances but people of color are not.

Since then, seven employees have left the brand’s popular Test Kitchen YouTube series, including El-Waylly.

“I refuse to be a part of a system that takes advantage of me, while insisting I should be grateful for scraps. This happens far too often, to too many people of color, many of whom do not have the privilege to walk away from a s— situation,” Priya Krishna, who will continue to write and create recipes for the magazine, wrote in a statement shared on social media earlier this month.

“I was told by video leadership that things were changing and that the would be a huge push towards diversity,” she added. “But it was all lip service. The contract I received was nowhere near equitable.”

Senior Food Editor Molly Baz, and editors-at-large Amiel Stanek and Carla Lalli Music have also left the series out of solidarity with their co-workers, according to Business Insider.

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

  • Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
  • ColorofChange.org works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.
  • National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond.

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