Vikhroli Cucina

Challenges for a restaurant critic

17 August 2018 , 0 comments / 0 likes
There’s more to being a food critic than spreading the word about how good or bad a restaurant is. Food critics bring a context to the food and educate the restaurant goer about what to expect from a restaurant. Through their reviews, food critics can create an experience for the diner. In a stimulating conversation with Antoine Lewis at the Vikhroli Cucina Season 4 - Culinary Chroniclers Conclave, Anisha Rachel Oommen and Sourish Bhattacharyya discussed what it takes to become a restaurant critic.
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(From L-R) Sourish Bhattacharyya, Columnist, Blogger and Co-founder of Tasting India Symposium; Antoine Lewis, Food and Wine Writer; and Anisha Rachel Oommen, Editor and Co-founder, The Goya Journal; discussed if the age of reviewing food is over.

Be critical

A review can make or break a restaurant, and food critics need to be extra cautious about their opinions. In a digital world today, everyone with a smartphone is a food critic. Giving informed and unbiased feedback is paramount. A critic should be credible and write with authority and responsibility. People take critics seriously, and it is their responsibility to live up to this trust.

Know your food

A good critic knows their food. They must know everything about the dish – the ingredients and their purpose, the recipe, the chef’s intent, the cuisine and its history, the presentation and also the crockery used to serve food. This knowledge helps the critic arrive at an opinion which not only entices diners but also helps them decide whether they want to experience the restaurant or not.

Build an audience

The food space is a niche territory, and there is a need to cultivate audiences. As readers get educated and their interests grow in different kinds of food, they seek information on the entire range of experiences that a restaurant offers. The décor, the service and the staff’s knowledge about the menu become a part of the deal. It then becomes the critic’s job to paint a picture in the reader’s mind and build a following. Today, social media plays a significant part in reaching out to people. The critic must be able to evolve with technology and leverage new platforms.

Communicate clearly

The number of people eating at restaurants is on the rise and they seek divergent culinary experiences. It then becomes a critic’s duty to educate their audience in a language they understand.  They must refrain from merely giving out information and communicate with the audience. A review must make a diner aspire to eat at the establishment. Every meal is an interaction, and the critic must be able to translate the philosophy of the restaurant and articulate the entire experience. It is crucial to have a voice and write informed content that is unique and original.

What do you think about the evolving nature of a food critic? Let us know in the comments.
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