What Bon Appétit Editor Sonia Chopra Does In a Workday

From a Washington Post story by Sonia Chopra headlined “What Bon Appétit executive editor does in a workday”:

Welcome to The Work Day, a series that charts a single day in various women’s working lives — from gallery owners to stay-at-home parents to chief executives. In this installment, we hear from Sonia Chopra, executive editor of Bon Appétit and Epicurious.

Name: Sonia Chopra

Location: Brooklyn

Job title: Executive editor, Bon Appétit and Epicurious

Previous jobs: I’ve worked in food media for about a decade and have held roles that include editor, managing editor and director of editorial strategy.

What led me to my current role: Like a lot of people, I started a new job during the pandemic. I loved my old company and my co-workers, but I was excited by the opportunity to do something new and work with brands at a time of transformation.

How I spend the majority of my day: I know everyone says that every day is different … but really every day is different! I oversee the editorial teams at Bon Appétit and Epicurious — specifically, the “words” and food teams — and we work closely with art, video and audience development departments to create the best possible content.

Much of my work is focused on making sure my teams have what they need to get their work done, whether that’s discussing workflows and resourcing, helping shape stories or talk through roadblocks, or working across the company to make sure our work is aligned with broader goals. 2021 was definitely a rebuilding year — we hired more than 20 new folks — so now one of my big priorities is making sure we’re building a unified vision and that everyone is on board with it.

I think a lot of people think my job is tasting dishes in the test kitchen and dreaming up stories about food — and that certainly happens — but mostly my role is to do everything I can to make sure my very talented co-workers who create incredible recipes and content have everything they need to do great work.

My workday

7:30 a.m.: My husband usually makes the coffee in our household, but because he’s traveling for a few days, I decide to go out. I take a stack of reading — I’m a judge for a food media award and the evaluation period is almost over — and head to my local cafe for cold brew, avocado toast and a change of scenery. Highly recommend starting your morning doing something screens-free.

8:45 a.m.: On the walk home, I FaceTime my grandmother in India just to say hi. She was playing sudoku when I called, and I promise I will show her my new favorite game — Wordle, obviously — when I visit next month. She asks me to bring her Tiger Balm and sesame sticks when I come, too.

I make a to-do list for the day and pack lunch and some snacks to take to work: an orange, granola that a friend and her kid made, some pistachios. I place an order for the sesame sticks my grandmother requested, and while I am on Nuts.com (one of my top five favorite places to shop), I throw in some packs of mixed nuts to stash in the office.

I douse the second half of my avo toast with Sobre Masa salsa macha and eat it standing up over the kitchen counter while catching up on articles on my phone (glamorous!). We have a Slack room at work where we drop stories we love from around the Internet, and my co-workers always have the best and most interesting recs.

9:30 a.m.: I try really hard not to take meetings before 11 a.m., but sometimes it does happen and today I have one right at 9:30. I take it from home before hopping on the subway to go into the office. I also try not to work on my commute — I often do the crossword or a Duolingo lesson — but I just got a galley of Epicurious associate editor Jarrett Melendez’s forthcoming graphic novel, “Chef’s Kiss,” so obviously I’m reading that instead. The food-filled story has friendships, restaurant antics and crushes so immersive I almost miss my stop.

11 a.m.: I make another coffee in the office (I keep Burlap & Barrel cinnamon at my desk specifically for this reason) and settle in for a few hours of Zooms and emails. A lot of my day is meetings, so it’s always nice when I get to break it up. Someone on my team is out on vacation this week, so I’m editing more stories than I usually do and I really enjoy it.

I have a couple quick IRL chats with people I work with about some process changes and presentations we have coming up, and one of our print leads asks me if I want to write a story I pitched for our August issue. Some months my ideas come together at the last minute, but this is one I have been wanting to pitch since last October, so I’m thrilled that it’s happening.

1:40 p.m.: A meeting wrapped up early, so it’s time to eat. I like to pick up a salad from the cafeteria and throw a vegan protein from home on top. Recently I’ve been making the spiced confit chickpeas from Yotam Ottolenghi’s newest cookbook, “Shelf Love,” which are so good and so easy. The most involved part is peeling the 10 cloves of garlic.

After, I stick my head into our test kitchen to say hi and ask someone a couple of questions about the herbs they use the most. We’re exploring a partnership opportunity for which we would need to curate a selection of ingredients, and I am very much enjoying thinking through all the options.

3 p.m.: I skip a meeting (sorry) to prepare for a presentation I have tomorrow. We just launched a paid recipe subscription on Bon Appétit and Epicurious, and it’s been really exciting so far.

I also set some time aside to prep for onboarding our new restaurant editor, who starts next week. It can be hard to start a new job — especially remotely — and we really try to make it as stress-free as possible. I am so excited for these folks to start, and thinking about their first few weeks makes it feel real.

4 p.m.: I’m in a meeting when I get a notification that Epicurious just got nominated for a big award! I try to play it cool and pay attention, and then 10 minutes later I see that Bon Appétit was nominated for one as well — and two nominations means I have to interrupt the meeting to share the news. Awards are obviously a complicated signal of success — so much great work goes unrecognized every year — but I am so proud of my teams for everything they’ve accomplished in the last year and delighted that others are acknowledging it as well. We wrap the meeting and I send a few congratulatory messages.

5 p.m.: I had early dinner plans with a co-worker, so I sneak out of the office early to go meet her at new restaurant Runner Up in Brooklyn, which I have been wanting to try since it opened. We order celebratory cocktails and toast to our award nominations and have a really nice meal. I’ve been vegetarian for most of my life, but now that I’m trying to reduce my dairy intake (doctor’s orders!), I’ve been experimenting with some seafood. We snack on white fish croquettes with a heap of trout roe on top and a really great sardine toast, plus a stand-out bitter greens salad and a few other things.

It’s freezing today and we’re dining outside, but the restaurant provides blankets and my co-worker reveals that she’s wearing electric socks. I am not as prepared as she is, and as such my walk home is almost unbearable. I call some loved ones on the West Coast to catch up and distract myself from the chill.

9 p.m.: Since I left the office early, I do a quick skim of email and Slack to make sure nothing timely came up, and then I remember two close friends are coming over for dinner tomorrow and I need to figure out what to cook. My cardinal rule of hosting is never make something for the first time — it’s too stressful! — so I land on the saucy tofu noodles I have made literally every week since I first saw Christina Chaey’s recipe for Bon Appétit. I think about making a salad, but I know I’ll just toss greens in with the noodles before serving instead. I also consider baking these cookies with dates and dark chocolate that look so good from a story we have timed to Ramadan in our next issue (hits newsstands in mid-March), but I know I should stick to my rule and bake them for fun this weekend rather than for the dinner.

I make a grocery list, wrap a present for a first birthday party I am going to this weekend and pick up a new book (“Black Cake” by Charmaine Wilkerson) from my to-read stack.

I’d love to tell you I was asleep by 10:30, but I stay up reading past midnight, play Wordle and then go to bed.

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