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2011 October 26

Bon Appétit's Adam Rapoport Dishes On HSN Line

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Adam Rapoport Adam Rapoport
Courtesy of Bon Appetit
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(NEW YORK) Come January, Bon Appétit will have all its bases covered in the kitchen—literally—with the launch of an extensive branded line of cooking accouterments on HSN. The Daily rang up the Condé title’s EIC, Adam Rapoportin the midst of a work jaunt to Vegasfor the extensive dish on everything from panini presses to pineapple corers to the chef who wears Prada. (Check out our Gallery for a peek at one of the mag's branded pans.) Plus! The cautionary tale behind Rapoport’s bare-chested culinary battle wound. Hint: It’s a real scorcher…

What’s the dish on Bon Appétit’s upcoming line of kitchen wares?
Condé Nast has a good relationship with HSN—titles like Glamour and Lucky have both partnered with them before. This is a line of cookware for home cooks, by home cooks! It’s everything from foolproof pots and pans to immersion blenders and food processors. The initial collection hits on January 31, and there will be different offerings for each quarter. On the editorial side of Bon Appétit, we really are all home cooks; that’s one of the pre-reqs I had when hiring people, whether the creative director, photo director, or the restaurant critic. I wanted people that are ‘all in.’ The quality of the products in this line was what was important to us; we wanted everything to be stuff we’d actually use at home. Going into a project like this, I think it’s healthy to be a bit skeptical, in order to ensure the line was exactly what we wanted.

What’s the process been like?
We decided what products we wanted to do, they’d make them for us, and then we’d bring them back to the test kitchen to try out all the products, then the kitchen would have notes on everything, like if the handle needed to be more solid. It was a lot of constructive criticism. It’s just like working on an article, when an editor takes a first pass at it. You make some changes and get it where it needs to be. We didn’t just want a bunch of products to have our name on it.

Which item are you particularly jazzed about?
I’m a big fan of the panini press—I believe that any sandwich tastes better when it’s crispy and hot.

What’s the most unexpected item in the collection?
Well, there’s a pineapple corer, which are apparently very popular on HSN for some reason! They sell incredibly well. People just love pineapple corers. Who knew? I didn’t realize that many people even bought whole pineapples. I love pineapple, but I don’t run out buying whole pineapples all the time.

Will you be appearing on HSN to peddle the goods?
As of now, I will not. I won’t yet be crossing that line of editor and on-air personality. We will have on-air personalities representing the brand, and they’re still being finalized—people that are part of the Bon Appétit “family.” We will be filming some videos here at the Condé Nast building, featuring items from the line for segments. Our test kitchen is pretty slammed every day, and we have around 50 or 60 recipes in each issue, and we test them out four or five times. So we’re still working out whether our editors will fly down to Tampa for a few days during the work week to film live segments.

Who’s your favorite HSN host at the moment?
I think Wolfgang Puck does a great job—he has so much enthusiasm and energy. Honestly, I don’t really know how he does it! But I think HSN does great job of picking and pairing hosts for their different collections; they’re very opportunistic and smart about that.

Do you shop often on HSN?
My wife is more of the shopper in the relationship! She’s more of an in-person shopper—she’s been spending a lot of time at the Isabel Marant shop in Soho these days. And Barneys. Those two places have been getting most of our disposable income lately.

What else might Bon Appétit brand in the future?
I’d love to branch out into some more home wares in the future. We talk about how to make the perfect pasta sauce, and toss it in the pan, and get every noodle coated with a nice glaze of beautiful sauce. But half of that is about serving it in the right pasta bowl that captures and presents the dish beautifully. So I want to eventually sell the perfect pasta bowl and wine glass along with the perfect steak knife. It’s not in the collection currently, but we’ll find a way to make it happen.

What about kitchen-apropos attire?
Absolutely! Maybe the perfect bistro-style aprons and dishcloths. You have to take a holistic approach to food and cooking; it’s about what you’re wearing, whether there are cool votive candles on the table—it’s creating the whole experience and environment.

Who’s your ideal fashion designer to do a Bon Appétit
collab with?
Hmm, who would be making my really cool apron and oven mitts?! We just did that event with Billy Reid, and besides really liking Billy as a person, he’s a guy who loves to eat, loves to cook, and knows food. Anytime you get involved with anyone as a business partner, you want to know that they’re in for more than just the money. Skinny Karl Lagerfeld admits very freely that he does not eat; he’ll drink Diet Coke and that’s about it. So it’d have to be someone who really loves to cook to get involved with, and Billy would be great on that front. There are certainly other menswear designers that I really dig, from Michael Bastian to Thom Browne, but I don’t know if they’re home cooks. Actually, I’m pretty sure they’re not, as much as I like them and their clothes.

What might Billy Reid’s cooking togs would look like?
In terms of aprons, there’d be a somewhat rustic quality and a sense of history. Realness with a bit of flair; you’d look at it, and know it was legit. 

What do you wear when cooking at home?
First of all, comfortable shoes, because you’re on your feet a lot in the kitchen. I like to wear an apron around the waist because that looks kind of cool, but ultimately it doesn’t make that much sense because your shirt can still get splattered! I’ve got to admit that I’m kind of vain that way; I’d rather look cool than actually protect my shirt. But I’ve learned not to wear a white oxford or dress shirt. So I wear a dark t-shirt or Lacoste shirt. In the summertime, I just don’t wear a shirt at all. I’ll cook shirtless in a pair of shorts and flip flops. But that gets a little dangerous if you’re frying stuff. I actually have a very noticeable scar on my chest right now from where I dropped something in hot oil and it splattered all over me. That was not fun. Though pain is gain, as they say!

How do you stock your home kitchen?
I stick to the basics when I cook. Give me a great sauté pan, the perfect set of tongs, a cutting board and a chef’s knife, and I’m in business.

What’s on your shopping list currently?
I’d like to get a new range one of these days. Right now we have a crappy electric range. We didn’t have the funds to buy a fancy new gas range, and we’d have to tap a gas line because the rest of our building is electric. So that’s next on the docket! Maybe we can make a Bon Appétit gas range and I’ll get a good deal on it.

What are your favorite brick-and-mortar kitchenwares store to peruse?
In New York, I’ve always been a Broadway Panhandler sort of guy, and that’s where I get a lot of my basic tools. Kitchenware is one of those things that you always receive as gifts, and I’ve certainly gotten my fair share. When people know you like to cook, they’ll get you this cool gadget or accessory. We also have a Williams-Sonoma right by us, on 17th Street and Seventh Avenue, so I’ve certainly picked up a few things there over the years.

Who’s the chicest-dressed chef in the biz right now?
There’s that whole Top Chef generation of youngsters that are pretty media-savvy and image conscious. It doesn’t seem like there’s a chef out there under the age of 30 who doesn’t have forearms covered in ink. I have to give it up to Jean-Georges Vongerichten. When I was at Time Out New York in the ‘90s, he was the guy wearing Prada head-to-toe in the kitchen, with the black, slip-on comfortable Prada Sport shoes and slim trousers. Jean-Georges always been incredibly well put-together, in a tidy and meticulous way, and he’s been bringing it for a long time! 

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