Word came down yesterday that New York Times Magazine food editor Amanda Hesser accepted a buyout from the Times. Why now? There was a silly scandal a couple of years ago in which she was criticized for writing a fill-in review for Spice Market after Jean-Georges Vongerichten had blurbed her book. Even as recently as last week, an article about restaurant criticism in a Connecticut newspaper included an “Amanda Hesser Rule”: “the critic shall not review any restaurant owned or operated by a chef who has previously given her a quote for her book jacket.”
After all the good work she did for the Times, and given how closely the city’s top chefs know every food writer at the paper (including Frank Bruni), the heat on Hesser was unjust. (We also thought the three stars she gave to Spice Market were unfair, but that was bad judgment, not a soft spot for Vongo.) Of course, if the Times decided to part ways with her based on her unendurable book, Cooking for Mr. Latte, citing the torment of boyfriends around New York, we could see that. According to Eater, she plans to move forward on a “Web-based venture.” She has our sympathies.
Amanda Hesser [Eater]