“Every day is different—it’s a real wild card,” said Brad Leone, test kitchen manager at Bon Appétit. Eager NYU Summer Publishing Institute students gathered at One World Trade Center to tour Condé Nast’s Bon Appétit offices. Emma Wartzman, assistant to Editor-in-Chief Adam Rapoport, led the tour.
First on the agenda was the test kitchen, an open, minimalist space where staff editors also develop and taste recipes for the magazine. Dawn Perry, Digital Food Editor at Bon Appétit, noted that the food editors also have restaurant experience, a crucial skill since the magazine works so closely with chefs. “Learning to cook and learning to use raw ingredients to their greatest potential can be a challenging, but you learn so much,” she said.
The process of developing and tasting recipes is an extensive one at Bon Appétit. Editors ask themselves three questions: “Does it look good? Does it taste good? Does it fit into the story?” At the end of the test kitchen tour, we even got to try some Belgian-style waffles, which had just the right balance of sweetness and crunch.
Next up was the kitchen where the staff holds their meetings with advertisers and shoots pictures of food. Perry told us that on most days they do 4 or 5 shoots, but on their busiest days, it can be up to 14.
On the next floor up where the editorial offices are located, we sat down for a Q&A session with Adam Rapoport, who has been with Bon Appétit for 5 years and is now the Editor-in-Chief. He described the media world extensively and discussed how Bon Appétit keeps up with the ever-changing nature of the business. Emphasizing that a magazine first needs to develop a unique voice, Rapoport argued that when it comes to creating content, it is less about the subject matter than you may think. “”It [the topic] has to mean something to you. As long as it means something to you, it will mean something to the reader.” Rapoport stressed the importance of creating a “soul and point of view” for every piece of content before promoting it on social media. Bon Appétit, he added, does a good job of keeping up with all platforms and the latest trends for magazine media, from the tablet craze to the ‘podcast renaissance’ to video. In determining his own vision for the magazine, he considers the next popular thing and goes from there.
As the tour ended, students were left with these inspiring words from Rapoport: “Don’t let your job define you. You should define your job. Use your strengths.”
by Samantha Marshall