A food critic is a writer who focuses on writing food criticism. Food critics, like theater and film critics, are expected to provide thoughtful, well-informed, and unbiased information to the general public so that they can make informed decisions about where to spend their money. Food critics primarily write about restaurants, which can range from fast food to fashionable and very exclusive establishments, though some may also write about food in general.
It takes time to become a food critic. Many food critics seek professional experiences in the food industry, such as attending culinary schools, working in restaurants, farming, and so on, in order to learn about all aspects of the industry. A good food critic knows everything there is to know about food, from how certain foods are harvested to the history of various dishes. Food critics have highly developed palates and may specialize in a specific area, such as traditional French cuisine, fusion cuisine, or other cuisines.
Once a food critic has gained experience, he or she can begin writing articles and submitting them to magazines and newspapers as samples. Food critics may move between publishers throughout their careers, or they may begin working for a newspaper’s food section and work their way up to a position as a food critic. Only a few critics become well-known and respected, and most are only well-known in the area they cover.
Food critics must maintain a high level of professionalism. Many people make reservations and go to restaurants anonymously to get a sense of how a restaurant treats regular customers. They also return so that they can give a restaurant and its offerings a fair and balanced assessment. Commercial considerations, such as gifts from restaurateurs, offers of free food, and so on, must be avoided food critics, as allegations of bribery or favoritism can be used to discredit them.
Food critics talk about how the food is presented, how it looks, and how it tastes when they describe the meals they order. They also assess it, offering comparisons, opinions on the food’s quality, and discussions of similar dishes from other restaurants. Food criticism also considers restaurant service, the ambiance of the establishment, and other factors that can influence food enjoyment. After taking into account all aspects of the dining experience, the food critic generates ratings that readers can use as a quick guideline when deciding whether or not to visit a particular restaurant.