Bon Appétit has a new name at the top of its masthead: Parent company Condé Nast on Thursday named book-publishing veteran Dawn Davis to be the new editor in chief of the glossy magazine and its related online and video properties.
Davis, who was president and publisher of 37 Ink, a Simon & Schuster imprint she founded that focused on historically marginalized writers, will step in amid turbulence at Bon Appétit. Staffers have complained about unequal treatment of employees of color, and have cited racial bias in editorial content.
She replaces Adam Rapoport, whose decadelong tenure ended abruptly in June, when he resigned amid a series of racial discrimination allegations and after a photo surfaced of him in “brownface” at a Halloween party.
“I see food at the epicenter of all we do,” Davis said in the news release announcing her hire. “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.”
Davis said she planned to work with writers and others to present “an array of intriguing and inclusive recipes and stories about the intersections between food and family, culture and commerce.”
Davis has a history of working with authors on splashy book titles that make their way onto movie screens. At 37 Ink, she published 2013’s “The Butler,” inspired by Wil Haygood’s feature story in The Washington Post about Eugene Allen, who served eight presidents in the White House. It was later made into a film by director Lee Daniels.
At Amistad, another Simon & Schuster imprint, she edited Steve Harvey’s “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man,” which became the basis of a 2012 rom-com, and “The Pursuit of Happyness,” by Chris Gardner, which was made into a movie produced by and starring Will Smith.
She also edited “The Known World” by Edward Jones, which won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
Her work includes editing cookbooks, and she was the author of the 1999 “If You Can Stand the Heat: Tales from Chefs and Restaurateurs,” in which she interviewed chefs including Edna Lewis, Bobby Flay and Anthony Bourdain.
“Dawn’s work stands out for defining and leading important cultural conversations,” Anna Wintour, the editor in chief of Vogue magazine and the artistic director of Condé Nast U.S. said in a news release. “She is a trusted voice and supporter of a diverse and inclusive community of writers and she has shone a light on people and stories that need to be told.”
Davis will step into a post at the helm of Bon Appétit and related brands Epicurious, Healthyish and Basically.
Earlier this month, three employees of color left the popular Bon Appétit video series amid accusations that the media company was unwilling to pay them as much as their white counterparts. When Rapoport left, employees alleged discrimination against non-White staffers and complained about video and print coverage of the cuisine of various cultures.
In June, the staffs of Bon Appétit and Epicurious released a lengthy statement promising to “dismantle racism” in their brands.
Davis’s tenure begins Nov. 2, according to Condé Nast, and she will join new executive editor Sonia Chopra, formerly of Vox; and chef, author and TV personality Marcus Samuelsson, who was named a “content adviser.”