Entry in progress—B.P.
Wikipedia: Food critic
The terms food critic, food writer, and restaurant critic can all be used to describe a writer who analyzes food or restaurants and then publishes the results of their findings. While these terms are not strictly synonymous they are often used interchangeably, at least in some circumstances. Those who share their opinions via food columns in newspapers and magazines are known as food columnists.
“Food writer” is often used as a broad term that encompasses someone who writes about food and about restaurants. For example, Ruth Reichl is often described as a food writer/editor, who in the course of her career served as the “restaurant critic” for The New York Times and for the Los Angeles Times.] R.W. “Johnny” Apple was also described as a food writer, but never served as a designated restaurant critic. Nonetheless, he wrote frequently about restaurants as he traveled in search of good eats. Calvin Trillin writes a great deal about food (among other things) and has been known to write occasionally about specific restaurants, e.g., Arthur Bryant’s and Diedee’s. But restaurants figure less prominently in his writing than in Apple’s. Finally, Richard Olney was also a noted food writer, but rarely if ever wrote about restaurants.
Food critics and “restaurant critic” are synonyms, in practice, although there is still a distinction to be made. Both suggest a critical, evaluative stance that often involves some kind of rating system. The distinction, if any involves the range of possible investigation. “Food critic” has a more contemporary vibe, suggesting that restaurants, bakeries, food festivals, street vendors, and taco trucks are all fair game. Jonathan Gold, of the L.A. Weekly, exemplifies this trend. “Restaurant critic” is the more traditional title and can connote a more restricted sphere of operations — traditional restaurants, with perhaps those serving French cuisine being the examplars. The change in practice, if not in terminology, is often attributed to Reichl’s arrival at the New York Times, replacing Bryan Miller. In a series of well-documented incidents, Miller complained that Reichl was “giving SoHo noodle shops 2 and 3 stars” and destroying the rating system that had been built up by Craig Claiborne, Mimi Sheraton, and Miller.
17 March 1894, Cincinnati (OH) Post, “George Zehler Provision Co.,” pg. 6, col. 6:
The smoked meats furnished by the company, under the name “Lion” brand, have acquired a fine reputation among pure food critics, the meats being put up in the perfection of style.
22 January 1912, Albuquerque (NM) Morning Journal, “The Mince Pie and the College Cirl,” pg. 4, col. 2:
Why the country was full of them before any food critic drew the hot air of life.
18 July 1913, Springfield (MA) Union, pg. 11, col. 5:
FOOD CRITIC TALKS
ON BAKING POWDERS
(David J. Hickey, pure food expert—ed.)
OCLC WorldCat record
Gut reaction : the makings of a food critic
Author: Stephen Downes
Publisher: Chatswood, N.S.W. : New Holland Publishers, 2011.
Edition/Format: Book : Biography : English
OCLC WorldCat record
Topped chef : a Key West food critic mystery
Author: Lucy Burdette
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Obsidian, ©2013.
Edition/Format: Book : Fiction : English
Summary: Hoping for some good publicity, Hayley’s boss signs her up to help judge the Key West Topped Chef contest. Stakes are high as the winner could be the next cooking-show superstar. Hayley shows up for the filming nervous but excited, until she sees who’s on the judging panel with her: Sam Rizzoli, big shot businessman and owner of the restaurant she just panned in her first negative review. When Rizzoli turns up dead, the police assume his killer is one of his business rivals. But Hayley wonders whether someone is taking the contest a little too seriously. With the police following the wrong recipe, it’s up to Hayley to find the killer before she’s eliminated from the show permanently.