Sohla El-Waylly, Food Wizard
New York magazine|October 12-25, 2020
Sohla El-Waylly, Food Wizard
After leaving Bon Appétit’s Test Kitchen, the chef now has her own show—where she’s paid fairly for her fantastic creations.
E. Alex Jung

SOHLA?” THE VIDEO begins. “Do you have a minute?” The stars of Bon Appétit’s Test Kitchen have so many questions, and Sohla El-Waylly is like their own human Alexa: Sohla, how do you temper chocolate? Sohla, how do you pronounce turmeric? Sohla, what’s a dosa? El-Waylly appears on command—busy, patient, with a neatly cut bob—to answer. The fan-made Sohla supercuts (there are many) did what Bon Appétit failed to do: reframe the narrative so that the background actor might actually be the star. “The Test Kitchen is really fun as long as you play your role, and I didn’t like the role I was put in,” El-Waylly says. “It became increasingly frustrating to become a sidekick to people with significantly less experience than me.”

The meteoric popularity of the embattled Test Kitchen was built in part on the vision that it was like The Office—but tastier. Unlike much of the show’s talent, El-Waylly came in with a wealth of professional experience, including two years of culinary school, and gigs at fine-dining establishments in New York, and a stint running her own restaurant. She joined Bon Appétit in the summer of 2019 as an assistant culinary editor, a junior position that meant she was supposed to cross-test other people’s recipes. Quickly, though, she began developing her own and, as the Test Kitchen universe expanded, appearing in videos. On-camera, El-Waylly was nerdy but kind of punk, with a bone-dry wit. To viewers, she looked like an integral part of the ensemble—at least until earlier this summer, when, amid allegations of racism and unequal pay at Bon Appétit, she posted on social media that she hadn’t been paid at all for her video appearances. “Working in a place like that, you can’t say ‘no,’ ” she says. “You never know if another opportunity will come your way.” (A representative for Condé Nast stated that all employees who appeared in videos were paid but didn’t provide details on how El-Waylly was compensated.)


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October 12-25, 2020