New York Times Cooking is doubling down on video and taking on Bon Appétit to become the top online destination for home chefs

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The New York Times’ Cooking section is ramping up its investment
in video and borrowing from rival Bon Appétit’s playbook as it
seeks to win over the coveted home chef audience.

NYT Cooking has invested in a new kitchen studio and is
expanding the team to produce more videos and grow its library of
more than 20,000 recipes. Backing the project is a new advertising
campaign, which debuts on TV, digital and social media channels on
Wednesday.

Viewers got a glimpse of the new studio in a “Gingerbread
Showdown” video
posted to the NYT Cooking channel on December
23. The banter and camaraderie between the chefs in the video, set
in the relaxed atmosphere of the kitchen, resembled the style made
famous by Bon Appétit. The Condé Nast-owned title has soared in
popularity over the past few years and gained a
cult-like following
on social media channels like YouTube and
Instagram where viewers connected with the chefs’ distinctive
personalities. The Times’ “Gingerbread” video even features two
former Bon Appétit stars, Sohla El-Waylly and Priya Krishna, going
head to head in the cooking challenge.

While the Times’ latest moves will better position the cooking
vertical to make a landgrab for Bon Appétit’s audience, the heads
of NYT Cooking told Insider that the 2021 expansion was part of a
broader, multiyear plan. NYT Cooking intends to grow the standalone
section, which went behind a paywall in 2017, into the leading
destination for cooking enthusiasts.

“Our goal for the next five years [is that] we’d like to be more
of a household name,” said Emily Fleischaker, NYT Cooking’s
enterprise strategy editor (and Bon Appétit alum of 2006 to
2012).

A kitchen revolt

NYT Cooking’s expansion — which will see it doubling its
number of food reporters, judging by its current job openings —
comes months after a chaotic period for Bon Appétit’s “Test
Kitchen,” which had grown into the dominant video brand among
legacy-media food publishers.

Back in June, former and current employees of Bon Appétit

told Insider
that the company paid employees of color less than
their white colleagues — though Condé Nast has repeatedlydenied this — and
that nonwhite employees were socially slighted and unable to access
the same professional networks as their white peers. Bon Appétit’s
Adam Rapoport
resigned
as editor-in-chief amid the backlash. Then 10 of the
13 members from the series
said they would no longer appear
in the magazine’s videos,
including El-Waylly and Krishna, who appeared in the recent NYT
Cooking video.

In August, Bon Appétit hired publishing executive Dawn Davis to
replace Rapoport and a diverse lineup of chefs to appear in its
videos. Having put the show on pause, “From The Test Kitchen” is
set to relaunch later this year,
according to Variety
. However, the Bon
Appétit
channel started uploading
content from new and existing chefs
in October 2020.

Read
more:
Bon
Appétit insiders reveal details of upcoming Test Kitchen comeback
video after 3 months of silence

Condé Nast declined to comment for this article.

The allegations of pay disparities and discrimination at Bon
Appétit came amid a wider international reckoning about race and
diversity following the killing of George Floyd. Many journalists

criticized
their own publications’ coverage of the protests as
well as newsrooms that preached diversity policies but also ignored
Black voices and ideas.

NYT Cooking was also forced to address where it had fallen
short. Star chef Alison Roman’s column was placed on hiatus after
she referred to Marie Kondo and Chrissy Teigen
as sellouts
in a May 2020 interview. People were upset that
Roman singled out two Asian women. She later apologized and said
her remarks were “one hundred percent a function of my privilege.”
Roman, who was responsible for the team’s most
popular recipe last yea
r, resigned from her position in
December.

In June 2020, Sam Sifton, NYT food editor and founding editor of
NYT Cooking,
wrote an editor’s letter
pledging to diversify its staff,
contributors, and recipes. The NYT Cooking team also developed a
new way to credit the original creators of recipes in October of
last year to provide more transparency
over recipe heritage.

Cooking up a storm

With lockdown restrictions forcing people inside during the
pandemic and indoor restaurant dining out of the question, 2020 was
a solid year for NYT Cooking.

NYT Cooking reached 113 million website visitors in 2020, a 40%
increase on the prior year, according to a New York Times
spokesperson. NYT Cooking had 600,000 subscribers by the end of the
third quarter of 2020. Subscribers pay annual fee of $40, or $5 a
month, to access NYT Cooking content.

(By comparison, Bon Appétit’s 2021 media kit states it reaches
16.3 million digital unique visitors monthly and has 15.7 million
followers on social media, racking up some 166 million average
monthly video views.)

Located in midtown Manhattan, the new NYT Cooking studio
represents a “sizable investment and important initiative for the
company,” said an NYT spokesperson, without providing specifics on
the cost. NYT Cooking also plans to host events in the new
space.

Amplifying the Times’ vote of confidence in NYT Cooking is the
new advertising campaign, which aims to highlight the challenges of
everyday cooking during a time when most people are stuck at
home.

The ads, developed by creative agency, Gretel, will run for eight weeks. The
NYT spokesperson declined to comment on how much the title is
spending on the marketing push.�

The core aim of the campaign is to raise brand awareness for NYT
Cooking, which is not as high as that of other competitors, said
general manager of NYT Cooking, Amanda Rottier, who didn’t name
specific rivals.

Read more:
10 Bon Appétit Test Kitchen stars have left video amid a reckoning
over how the company treats employees of color — here’s the full
list

Asked whether people might draw comparisons between the Times’
strategy and that of Bon Appétit, Fleischaker responded: “I would
say to those people: Don’t underestimate us: We’ve been working on
videos before Bon Appétit had their ‘Test Kitchen’ strategy,”
Fleischaker said. “And while brilliant, I think the goal is to do
something original.”

She added that it wouldn’t be smart to replicate the Bon
Appétit ‘Test Kitchen’ in the same way that it wouldn’t have been
a good idea to try to build a similar operation to BuzzFeed’s Tasty
cooking vertical in 2018.

“As an audience changes so rapidly, that the Bon Appétit ‘Test
Kitchen’ already feels like the last phase,” Fleischaker said.

Cooking is a crowded space, but the Times benefits from having
an established brand and financial resources to make big
investments in video, said Rob Ristagno, founder of consultancy
firm Sterling Woods.

NYT Cooking’s “number one competitor is a Google search,”
continued Ristagno. “[NYT Cooking has] to figure out exactly what
[its] niche stands for and why is it different than anything else
that’s out there on the market — and most cooking stuff out there
is free.”

Read more:
A behind-the-scenes look at how BI reporter Rachel Premack revealed
a toxic culture at Bon Appétit for its employees and contributors
of color


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Source: FS – All – Entertainment – News
New York Times Cooking is doubling down on video and taking
on Bon Appétit to become the top online destination for home
chefs