What Twenty Years of Food Criticism in New York Taught Me

“After twenty-two years of exercise and billions of meals, the time has come to give up my apron”, announces food critic Adam Platt in his latest column for Grub Streetthe website of New YorkMagazine devoted to gastronomy.

As this well-known signature of the foodies New Yorker, “twenty-two years is a lot, especially when you spend them gobbling up greasy and unhealthy foods every day”.

Nevertheless, the list of privileges attached to the profession of food critic is long, underlines this veteran. Starting with the fact of not paying for his meals with his own money and “the impression of being in the front row to observe, all expenses paid, the daily life of this incredible city and to witness the metamorphosis of the local culture – and this is undoubtedly the most intoxicating aspect”.

In the fray of social networks

Much has changed, however, since Platt took office in 2000. All-powerful critics à la Anton Ego – the austere Ratatouille –, “which have long been an endangered species, finally seem on the verge of extinction for good”. From now on, “Thanks to the miracles of the digital age, amateur foodies are better informed and more confident than ever. And thanks to authors like Anthony Bourdain [un chef américain décédé en 2018, rendu célèbre par son best-seller Kitchen Confidential]they no longer consider restaurants as stilted places of entertainment whose frequentation borders on ritual […]but as a window open to the cultures of the whole world.”

Descended from their pedestal, critics are now called upon to plunge into the social media fray to defend their points of view:

“Today, to be a good critic, you have to be both [capable de] shouting loudly in the shambles of opinions circulating on TikTok, social anthropologist and investigative journalist in order to closely follow the restaurant sector, whose role in the economic and spiritual well-being of the city n has never been so important.”

Strategic window

After the long and painful hiatus of the pandemic, New York’s dining scene seems more vibrant than ever, Platt said. Which takes advantage of his farewell to share some findings and advice for the person who will succeed him (she has not yet been chosen). “Try not to get noticed and keep in mind that restaurants are always better for the first two or three months after opening, before they raise their prices, before the chefs devote themselves to improving their prices. ‘other projects and everything goes down the drain’, he suggests, before predicting:

“The wine list will always be overpriced, the rooms will invariably be too loud, and the sushi lovers perched on the next stool are sure to chatter away over their $30,000 watch.”

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