Critics: They’re Just Like in Ratatouille!


We’re confused. We’re experiencing a little fender-bender-induced whiplash today — it’s possible that the incident jostled our brains too — but is it really OK for restaurant critics to be readily google-image-able? Danyelle Freeman, aka Restaurant Girl, will be reviewing restaurants for the Daily News starting next week. And she let Eater break the news, rather than announcing it on her own blog.

Maybe she’ll wear elaborate costumes. But when asked about the little problem of her non-anonymity, Restaurant Girl told Eater:

I want to give chefs and restaurants their best opportunity to communicate a vision. Restaurants aren’t running out to grab different ingredients or a new chef simply because you’re recognizable. Besides, let’s be honest, everyone knows what Frank Bruni looks like. There are photos of him in every important kitchen in NYC.

That first sentence, as a friend of ours pointed out, is like saying she wants to give restaurants an open-book exam. True, restaurants do have that old grainy photo of Bruni on-hand, but they don’t always spot him. And true, they don’t get a new chef or special ingredients the minute you walk in the door, but they definitely pick out the best steak in the house, rush your order ahead of others, and give you the best server working. A critic who’s been spotted will not receive the same treatment as her readers will when they walk into the same place, so who does this serve?

The problem with a critic not making an effort toward anonymity seems too obvious to have to point out. We’ve certainly seen cooks drop everything to gather around and evaluate the plate going to a critic or other VIP — why wouldn’t they? Readers, especially those with back-of-the-house experience, do weigh in.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 13, 2007

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