It’s the question on everyone’s mind: Who will be The New York Times‘ new restaurant critic? Who will dole out the stars, making or breaking a chef or restaurateur’s dream? Today, Josh Ozersky over at Time jabs at the paper, saying that Yelp and Zagat have made critics superfluous and that “the institution of Times critic, though once unassailable, has been battered by changing times. It didn’t help matters that Sifton often took the jocose tone of an alt-weekly blogger.” (And what, exactly, is wrong with a jocose tone?) And over at Adweek, foodies from Anthony Bourdain to Dana Cowin weigh in on the characteristics they’d most like to see in the new scribe.
Ozersky suggests that they review by committee, which is an interesting idea, and one that’s already sort of being done with the $25 and Under column. This could be tricky, since it lacks a cohesive viewpoint by which readers can research restaurants, but the star system, which he suggests redefining, is probably set for revamping. He also says to nix anonymity (because, really, who doesn’t have their photo somewhere on the Internet these days) and the use of cheap shots and comedy. No more joscose tone for the Grey Lady! Still, some timely suggestions.
At Adweek, Bourdain suggests that the next critic should be “like Sifton: entertaining, sharp, unafraid — and occasionally, sentimental. A food critic should like food — and chefs. Should have a soft spot for tradition.” Michael Anthony notes, “Rather than simply a critique of the cultural moment, we’d love to see a reviewer express an admiration for the industry itself.” Gail Simmons observes that “New Yorkers need a critic that has a palate just as discerning and adventurous as they are, with an appreciation and understanding that ambiance and service can make or break a restaurant. Jacques Pepin thinks it should become totally anonymous, à la Michelin, and Dana Cowin notes that most important thing for the next Times‘ restaurant critic is to “eat everywhere, and to eat from sun-up to after sun-down.”
One thing we know the next critic needs to have: one hell of a metabolism.