First Mover Interview: Adam Rapoport

Bon Appétit's new editor-in-chief dishes on foodie culture, magazine apps, and bad dinner parties

Adweek: The whole cooking thing has gone from a precious hobby to a televised sporting event. Is cooking the new national pastime?

Adam Rapoport: There’s always different spurs of trends, and they intersect. You’ve got celebrity chefdom, the whole green-market scene. You have the notion of cooking at home as opposed to going out. You have the coffee craze. I go to Café Grumpy in the morning, and I pay $5 for an iced coffee. That’s insane but totally acceptable these days. You want it all condensed in one sentence, but I don’t think you can do that.

Adweek: As a generational thing, what do you see?

AR: For most younger couples, I know it’s the guy who often does the cooking. We grew up in the ‘70s. Maybe it’s women’s liberation or whatever, but I was always in the kitchen with my mom. Now my wife and I—most of our fights take place in the kitchen. I’m way too controlling.

Adweek: So that answers the gay question.

AR: The guys from GQ refer to me as the gayest straight guy in Manhattan.

Adweek: What’s your favorite food magazine besides Bon Appétit?

AR: The last food magazine I really loved was Saveur back in the ‘90s. I loved the way the food was photographed; they reinvented the way food was written about. That staff loved food, loved cooking, loved traveling, and they wrote in a very honest, undistilled way and put their feelings straight onto the page.

Adweek: Then they went bankrupt.

AR: Yeah. So the question is: Can you harness some of that sensibility and apply it to a more Condé Nast model? The answer is yes.

Adweek: How much is your time split between the magazine and the website? 50-50? 70-30?

AR: The last several months, trying to get this relaunch issue out the door, the great majority has been on the magazine. We are now starting to turn our focus to the site.

Adweek: Sounds like you see your job principally as a magazine editor.

AR: It’s going to be much more diversified in the coming months. I do think my job a year from now will be different.

Adweek: But how much on the site?

AR: Well, more.

Adweek: Will video be an element?

AR: Yes. If you have a classic French chef, someone like Daniel Boulud, explain to you how they roll out an omelet from a skillet and lay it perfectly on the plate like a beautiful crepe, reading that you have no idea. But with video you actually do.

Adweek: Gut feelings on the potential of magazine apps?

AR: You can’t just replicate a magazine; what’s the point? What you put on there needs to be different. Give me a recipe app, 100 best grilling recipes, or what not.

Adweek: How can someone save a really bad dinner party?

AR: The worst thing you can do is be a self-flagellating host and constantly apologize and tell people how much you screwed up.

Adweek: Where do you shop?

AR: You have Eataly—which can get very expensive. I have a 3 year old. He picked out biscotti, and it cost $16.

Adweek: How would you feel if he grows up to be a butcher?

AR: That would be awesome because I would get great meat. If you can just do what you love and make a living at it—it’s kind of hard to argue with that.