Food critics?

A journalist? A writer? A chef? A keen amateur? Social Influencer- Which pigeon hole? By influencers I don’t just include Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tripadvisor and so on, I mean the whole shooting match.

Hopefully all, they most certainly have got to know their stuff. If you are going to have the balls to go toe to toe with some of the best and angriest chefs, you had better know what you are doing.

At the moment they will have had to pivot their career and come at it from a different angle. Reviewing home cook kits and takeaways.  Some are writing about other stuff, producing other content – just not takeaways. Shame though because as of 2021 and perhaps beyond the new takeaway may be here to stay.

Cue Tony Turnbull and his review of high end takeaway. Very interesting in many ways, but can you re-create 3 stars at home, and by this article, you can to a degree and be not far off. Which brings us back to the raw ingredients and the overall experience. FoodUx. The environment. Intrinsic and extrinsic.

Critic or influencer they mostly strike fear and hatred into many chefs who may knowingly or knowingly have them in their restaurant. Some are welcomed with open arms. Some come by stealth. Some are asked to leave.

Who decides who should be a food critic. It is a career, might be a short one and it is difficult to get in to in a meaningful way. Equally some have

A writer who can write well, obviously is going to stand a better chance than the keen amateur who might know their stuff but cant string a sentence together.

So what makes the critic so good at tasting food, to praise or criticise. Its quite binary. Unless it is middle ground, but then there is nothing to say apart from it was OK, who wants to read that.

Are food critics classically trained chefs? Just eaten a lot of meals on expenses? Do they cook a lot themselves? What actually qualifies them to critique chefs, their food and restaurants. They might do their research before they go to a venue, but isn’t that cheating.

A food journalist/food critic will be paid by the daily and weekend papers to visit a restaurant, probably anonymously until they arrive and sit down and someone clocks who they are. Then to work to deliver their opinion on what they have been served, their surroundings, the staff, the chef and his brigade.

A so called influencer wont be paid for their talent in writing or the possible complexities of their own palette. Freeloaders who probably don’t have the faintest clue about where they are going and what they are about to eat as long as they can get a few images to feed to their followers and hopefully garner some more.

Both are socially acceptable but in different ways. And to different groups. People will gravitate to each for different reasons. Both trying to earn a living.

Be it a local journo reviewing the local pub where a few hundred or maybe a thousand will read the review, or a high profile critic visiting a high end restaurant where the readership may be into 6 or 7 figures, the meaning of both are the same, to inform. But the outcome of one can have a very positive effect or can be enormously destructive. Maitre D’it, chef, sous chef, waiting staff, a key supplier or even the critic might be having a bad day. What happens then?

Good food is about consistency and quality of a wide variety of factors. All interdependent, some intrinsic and some extrinsic. So is it fair to base a review on one visit? I am sure multiple visits happen don’t they? Possibly, although if something went wrong and lets face it things do go wrong, they should be gracious enough to return on another day.

So a food critic is created from a career of writing, networking and eating at possibly the highest altars of food across the world. Copy, proof, copy, get it grammatically correct, some proper pictures, the editor agrees and good to go. A process. It might be harsh but as long as its fair.

The influencer has been busy on their phone for a few years and it shipped out to several hundred thousand followers with a single click, a few pictures and then shared again.

Who should be listened to and by who, I suppose is up to the audience. But credibility does matter.

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