DC Restaurants Have Been Sharing Secret Critic Guide

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

In a culinary version of Spy vs Spy, restaurants in Washington, D.C. have been using a secret handbook to prepare for the city's food critics.

The steady stream of political intrigue from our nation’s capital is what keeps the entire industry of journalism alive, both domestic and abroad. So it’s somehow deliciously fitting that even Washington’s culinary scene has its own spy network. According to the Washington City Paper, restaurateurs around the city have been sharing a critic handbook for the last two years that details what to expect from D.C.’s food critics and food writers.

The guide, complete with photo identification, describes critics’ personalities, writing styles, likes, dislikes, food knowledge, and writing ability. The document, designed for use by restaurant staff at all levels, also offers tips on how to recognize someone in the food media, as well as what kind of server to assign them.

As for food bloggers, the handbook says, “While they often know little of food and even less of writing, they do occasionally reach respectable audiences and those should not be ignored.”

The handbook’s author, who has previously worked in politics, shared the document with the Washington City Paper on the condition of anonymity.  

"When you're in a field where somebody's there to criticize you, you need as much information about that person as you can get to understand their position," he told the City Paper. 

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Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy