Professional v Amateur Restaurant Critics, San Francisco Chronicle Weighs In:
Saying "Formerly formal discipline of reviewing becomes a free-for-all for online amateurs"
Results of the poll I ran between March 25th and March 28th 2007
Almost a month ago I agreed to be interviewed by journalist Justin Berton at the San Francisco Chronicle for an article about online restaurant critics that was inspired by the Jeffrey Chodorow palaver. Since Berton does not work for the food section, it was interesting to collaborate with him - in my view he approached the question about online food criticism from a more objective view point than a food journalist might.
They sent photographers around... took my picture... in silhouette to preserve my anonymity... and I waited... and nothing. I learnt that the Food Section was apparently writing a similar article and so Berton's piece was put on the back burner. I had simply accepted that the piece would never run. So imagine my surprise this morning when I woke up to a congratulatory email from
The article is quite different from the one that Berton originally talked to me about. I am quoted as saying my 'training' comes from "eating food every day for the past 40 years". This designedly flippant remark of mine was supposed to be a humorous response to the journalist's questioning about whether critics should have formal culinary training or not although that argument isn't really touched upon so thoroughly in the final article.
Restaurateur Teo Kridech of Senses is rightly bitter after being shafted on Yelp, saying "Everyone has become a food critic. They think they're real big shots. They probably can't even make scrambled eggs.".
To him I would counter back that the rather arrogant view of his customers, would be better kept to himself if he hopes to attract good will and clientele since some of us 'amateur critics' certainly go beyond simply making scrambled eggs and actually go so far as to experiment to see if we can make them even better.
Today's article in The Chronicle is rather tired and dull. It doesn't really say anything new. Michael Bauer doesn't even bother to give his fellow bloggers the time of day when he states "I do think the traditional critic still has the most singular influence, but the playing field has been leveled significantly with sites such as Chowhound, Yelp, Citysearch and even Zagat," he said. "No longer does the newspaper have a lock on the information. It keeps us all on our toes." Same old, same old.
Mr Bauer - get with it. Haven't you heard of Blog Soop? Forget Chowhound, Yelp and all those other forums for anonymous online contributors to mouth off with barely care or thought for anyone. Show some respect to your fellow food bloggers, the ones who who take the time and the trouble to write restaurant reviews. The ones who really make efforts to go beyond emulating you. The writers who actually spend some time and thought on their words, people who might display some ethical judgements and who operate transparently. Food Bloggers might be a minority, but they are a stellar one.
Reference: The Association of Food Journalists Food Critics' Guidelines
Related reading from the Becks & Posh archives:
Michael Bauer 's Power in the City of Fog
Bauer - A Restaurateur's Perspective
Dear Jeffrey Chodorow
When you Piss upon a Star
The 'Becks & Posh' Restaurant Reviews Rules
The Launch of the Becks & Posh Restaurant Review Rating System
10 San Francisco-based Restaurant Review Blogs:
Kevin explores the culinary hole-in-the-walls, the greasy spoons, the lunch counters looking for that diamond in the rough.
Confessions of a Restaurant Whore
A San Francisco a girl's down and dirty adventures in the culinary playground, Joy has eaten at more fine dining establishments than anyone I know. (*X-rated language)
Who are John & Janine? I am not sure, but one thing is for sure I want to live it up like they do. They must have a fabulous life.
Our favourite Bunrabs dine out with lots of pictures.
The Finicky Lawyer:
A job-hating attorney celebrates the only agreeable side effect of her heinous job - dining out frequently - and shares the experience online.
A Few Reservations
In this left-wing, local-produce, low-mileage, Alice Waters-worshiping city, it's tough to find a genuinely exquisite vegetarian meal. Join the search here.
San Francisco Gourmet
A lawyer with a heart of gold, high-end tastes and a tendancy towards fine dining.
The Short Exact Guide
An everyday, law-abiding citizen who has a passion for exploring the planet’s diverse and inexhaustible cuisines.
All I can say is that I want Chuck's life. He even has a 2007 eating itenary planned! He lives in San Francisco but attempts to eat in the best restaurants all over the world.
Only in San Francisco - the top local resource for taquerias and mustaches.