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Why Bon Appétit’s latest cooking video is ‘extremely dangerous’

In 2020, it felt like Bon Appétit’s Test Kitchen was everywhere. The series of videos, populated by a cast of quirky chefs cooking beautifully shot recipes at the food publication’s office, captured the food-loving public’s attention like a Friday-night serial.

They were a blockbuster for the magazine until revelations about Bon Appétit’s working conditions — marred by pay inequity and racism — led to multiple resignations and the editor-in-chief’s very un-fabulous departure in the summer of that year.

Since then, the magazine’s video arm has brought in more diverse personalities to create food content, but one relic from the past has continued to kick up trouble for the brand. In his Bon Appétit series, “It’s Alive,” chef Brad Leone plays up his rough-and-tumble, everyman personality as he demonstrates food preservation and fermentation methods. Leone and former colleague Claire Saffitz were the stars of the magazine’s previous era, drawing in millions of viewers and acolytes with their off-the-cuff instructional videos.

His fast-and-loose style is fun to watch, but the negative reception to his latest work, an April 4 demo of making pastrami at home, speaks to the sometimes at-odds relationship between popularity and credibility in food media. In the video, Leone walks through the process of making pastrami at home, with results that have many speculating about whether the recipe could make them sick.