Top Chefs Review — and Rate — America's Food Critics (2012)
CRITICS' INTEGRITY (PERCEIVED BY CHEFS)
Which critics and food writers do chefs trust the most? The most trusted critic was Jonathan Gold. He kept company (perhaps aided by their newspapers) with The Washington Post's Tom Sietsema, Wells, Steingarten, and the Los Angeles Times' S. Irene Virbila. The country's least trusted reviewer was, yes, Brad A. Johnson, who was joined by Carman, Cook, Andrew Knowlton, and Josh Ozersky — the latter of whom, one chef claimed is "one of the smarter guys around, but one who was always looking to make a deal." Click for Integrity Graphic
WHICH CRITIC WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE A MEAL WITH?
Critics and food writers need dining companions to help them do their jobs, but judging by chefs' scores, they'd just as soon critics ate by themselves. The highest scores for critics in this category were the lowest of all four. At the top? Jonathan Gold was dubbed the most likeable critic by this criterion. The least likeable of all? Tim Carman.
But nobody's being done any favors by reading the excerpts, right? You have to read the full reviews. So click through the slideshow to see what some of America's top chefs said about the nation's most well-known critics. Click for Likablity Graphic
WHAT THE STARS MEAN
As anyone who follows the restaurant criticism racket knows, the star debate runs in cycles — how many, what they mean, if they should exist — it all gets navel-gazed at every year or so, even by critics who can no longer find theirs. The Daily Meal settled somewhere between the no-star rating used by the Los Angeles Times and the five-star system used by New York Magazine.
[CRITIC'S NAME HERE]
Daily Planet, Fifth Street and Concord Lane, (111)111-1111
CULINARY KNOWLEDGE An exemplary mud-to-opera understanding of varied culinary traditions and the nation's and the reviewer's city's culinary history, and prescience when it comes to trends.
PROSE STYLE A grabby lede that doesn't try too hard to show how smart or hip the writer is; interest enough in food to actually talk about it before the 300-word mark; a balance of pithy, memorable, and zingy quips and wonderfully cadenced sentences that give insight into food; and the ability when appropriate to deliver a killer kicker.
INTEGRITY Doesn't accept free meals (or even free bottles of wine) while "anonymously" reviewing, doesn't pressure chefs or restaurateurs into catering private events for free, never wields power to secure reservations for non-work-related dining experiences, and in general measures up when facing the will-I-do-the-right-thing-when-I'm-faced-with-that-right-or-wrong dilemma.
WANNA SHARE A MEAL? Cares deeply about food and beverage and the people preparing them and can talk about them with a distinct point of view; and has the charm, lack of ego, and recognition of what they don't know to make them interesting enough to actually share a pizza or drink a beer with.
#20 Brad A. Johnson, The Orange County Register, 1.74 Stars
#19 Tim Carman, The Washington Post, 1.79 Stars
#18 Alison Cook, Houston Chronicle, 1.84 Stars
#17 Adam Platt, New York Magazine, 2.14 Stars
#16 Andrew Knowlton, Bon Appétit, 2.16 Stars
#15 Josh Ozersky, TIME, 2.20 Stars
#14 Robb Walsh, RobbWalsh.com, 2.21 Stars
#13 Phil Vettel, Chicago Tribune, 2.3 Stars
#12 Brett Anderson, The Times-Picayune, 2.31 Stars
#11 Robert Sietsema, The Village Voice, 2.38 Stars
#10 Gael Greene, Foodie.com, 2.45 Stars
#9 S. Irene Virbila, Los Angeles Times, 2.49 Stars
#8 Michael Bauer, San Francisco Chronicle, 2.53 Stars
#7 Corby Kummer, The Atlantic, 2.54 Stars
#6 John Mariani, Esquire and Bloomberg, 2.60 Stars
#5 Alan Richman, GQ, 2.7 Stars
#4 Tom Sietsema, The Washington Post, 2.72 Stars
#3 Pete Wells, The New York Times, 2.77 Stars
#2 Jeffrey Steingarten, Vogue, 2.83 Stars
#1 Jonathan Gold, Los Angeles Times, 2.97 Stars
Arthur Bovino is The Daily Meal's executive editor. Follow Arthur on Twitter.