With their penchant for anonymity, food critics are difficult enough to spot when you’re expecting an adult to walk in and begin dissecting the dishes. When you add 5-foot-and-under children to the mix, uncovering critics becomes a bit trickier.
From New York City to Scotland, children as young as 4 years old have begun writing and talking about food in the only way kids know how: with brutal honesty.
Naturally, most children have yet to completely understand the art that is food writing, but they manage to compensate for that by writing about the way that a restaurant makes them feel and, most importantly, how the food actually tastes.
"Adults make too many judgments based on the appearance of the restaurants," David Pines, a 12-year-old food critic and author, told the New York Daily News this past March. "They get mad because the glasses weren’t all there when they walked in. I’m like, who cares? How did the food taste?" This way of thinking is mirrored in the majority of child food critics, who write to inform parents and kids alike where they can get the best kid-friendly food options around.
Eli Knauer, an 11-year-old critic, includes a rating system in his reviews, where he rates both the kid-friendliness and the taste of the food. After a trip to Morton’s The Steakhouse in 2011, Knauer gave the restaurant five stars for food, yet only one and a half stars for the kid-friendliness, deeming the restaurant for "kids who are quiet, kids who like to be fancy." As for his advice for parents considering taking their kids to the restaurant, Knauer advised, "If you want to have your child go out to Morton's, make sure his stomach is completely empty so he can eat every bite of his food, and make sure that he doesn't eat all of the humongous Morton's Legendary Hot Fudge Sundae [so] they don't get a humongous stomachache!"
Apart from the influx of children beginning to write about what they put into their mouths, there are also a surprising number of children eager to make their way into the kitchen to prepare dinner.
Flynn McGarry, now 14, took the culinary world by surprise when he began staging at Next and Alinea in Chicago under Grant Achatz and Modernist Cuisine's Food Lab in Seattle last year. This month McGarry takes on the kitchen at Eleven Madison Park under the tutelage of Daniel Humm.
Among the following 10 gastronomes are accomplished caterers, chefs, cookbook authors, and food critics already, with television appearances and popular websites under their rather tiny belts.
All 10 children began their impressive culinary journeys early in life, some barely 5 years old and none of them surpassing middle school before picking up their first knives. If anything is certain, these children have very promising careers in their future.