For the second year in a row, The Daily Meal turned the tables on the restaurant world and asked a bunch of chefs (anonymously, of course) to rate their critics. And, guys, Pete Wells of The New York Times needs a hug.
"I don't understand him. Restaurants have to have some bizarre food wow factor... I just don't think he knows food that well," one reviewer (either a chef or restaurateur) said of the man who took over from Sam Sifton in 2011. Another added: "Try having an actual opinion of your own without being a lemming." Ouch. Wells, The Times dining critic who is arguably the single most influential tastemaker in the dining world landed just outside of the top five. Here are the Daily Meal's top six critics:
1. Jonathan Gold, Los Angeles Times 3.44 Stars
2. Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, 3.2875 Stars
3. Brett Anderson, The Times-Picayune, 3.2825 Stars
4. Michael Bauer, San Francisco Chronicle, 3.16 Stars
5. Corby Kummer, The Atlantic / Boston magazine , 3.12 Stars
6. Pete Wells, The New York Times, 2.99 Stars
The critics were judged based on food knowledge, how they write, likability, and integrity, on a scale of one to four stars. And Jonathan Gold, the former LA Weekly critic and James Beard-winning journalist, is more or less the Hemingway of the food-writing world. "He cracks me up. He is so passionate, even-keeled, informative, and that dude can write! He makes me want to eat at whatever joint he writes about tomorrow," a chef said.
Wells's fellow New York gourmands didn't do so well. None of the top five reviewers came from New York, considered by many to be the capital of the dining world. Rather, they came from Los Angeles, New Orleans, Boston, D.C. and San Francisco. Adam Platt for New York clocked in at number 15, and the New York Post's ever-cranky Steve Cuozzo hovered near the bottom at 21 (out of 22) with 1.77 stars. All of the top five were men, suggesting that restaurant reviews remain largely a man's world.
And, no, these rankings won't cost anyone his or her job. But it is nice to finally hear, even anonymously, from the chefs who are sometimes on the receiving end of goose eggs (0 stars) and insults about their tacos.
Inset Photo by: Jane Bruce