Critics Weigh in On Wells Going National
May 2, 2013
Insatiable Critic Gael Greene Reacts
"I want to read Pete Wells take on whatever he eats wherever he goes. Why shouldn't he critique whatever he eats wherever. I do. I never gave stars at New York Magazine with the feeble hope that would encourage readers to read my column and not just look at the stars and pick up the phone. Should local critics feel threatened? Only if they are not gifted writers, not sensitive palates or are too cozy with the locals."
The Atlantic's Corby Kummer Reacts
"I think it’s a great idea. Mostly because if I learn to trust one critic’s taste, I’d like to know what he or she thinks about restaurants I’m likely to go to in any number of places. What matters is the voice and the critic’s taste, and I trust Pete on both, and just look forward to reading him. And besides, the Times might soon be the last publication to pay a critic to dine all over the country, so let’s all be the beneficiaries while we can!"
San Francisco Chronicle Michael Bauer Reacts
"I think it’s fine that Pete is visiting restaurants outside New York. After all, with the Internet we’re in a global community anyway. What he’s doing doesn’t encroach on what I do. As he clearly stated in his Diners Journal piece, he’s not giving stars, so this really isn’t a review. It’s kind of a 'first impression' not unlike what I might do when I head to Pete’s city or what national magazine writers do all the time."
Chicago Tribune's Phil Vettel Reacts
"To begin, I’m lime-green with envy that Mr. Wells enjoys that sort of funding and support. And as for my turf, if I can call it mine, it's already overrun with competing critics, bloggers, Yelpers, and anyone with a smart phone, I welcome any additional input, particularly from an informed source. I suppose some New York City restaurants might prefer the undivided attention of the Times’ restaurant critic, but I imagine outlying restaurants are thrilled at the prospect of a little New York Times ink."
Washington Post's Tom Sietsema Reacts
"Frankly, I’m surprised it’s taken this long for The New York Times reviewer(s) to eat away from home on a more regular basis. Since I became the food critic for the Washington Post in 2000, I’ve been filing regular dining dispatches (Postcard from Tom) from around the world for our Travel section. In that time, I’ve filed from more than 40 cities.
Bottom line: The move is great for Pete, and his many readers, and I completely understand his not wanting to award the places he visits in other cities stars, which would involve multiple visits. I don’t rank my out-of-town subjects, either. Given that I might be away only two or three days, I’d much rather give readers a bigger taste of say, Chicago or London or Beijing, than focus on a single restaurant."
S. Irene Virbila of the Los Angeles Times Reacts
"For me, it's not a problem that Wells is going to be reviewing (or writing about) restaurants outside New York. His New York readers should be interested in what he likes and doesn't like in other cities. And since he's not comparing them against New York restaurants, it also seems appropriate that they not get stars.
Restaurant critics, especially The New York Times' critics with bigger budgets than most, have been doing this for years. Ruth Reichl would go to Boston or Paris or San Francisco and do a roundup of restaurants. Frank Bruni did it, too. It's not new and there shouldn't be an issue."
Robert Sietsema of The Village Voice Reacts
"I think it's a smart business move for The Times — which increasingly must pursue a national readership — to send its critic out to review food in other parts of the country. Since Gourmet vacated their national criticism, we haven't had many voices we trust with a national purview. New Yorkers travel extensively, and the reviews will be useful to us, but also provide a welcome contrast to local critical voices for people in other locales. Yes, they may get pissed off, but the will read.
And now that Pete Wells has gained our trust as a critic, his work will be a useful guide for what to hit in other cities when we visit."