Anonymity

Do You Like Your Critics to be Anonymous?

We already know what one critic looks like.
We already know what one critic looks like.

Is the whole food writing world turning upside down? Now that Next has seemingly changed the rules about when a restaurant should be reviewed, Jeff Ruby, the food critic for Chicago Magazine, wonders whether he should even try to be anonymous. “Should I remain anonymous?” he questions towards the middle of the post, going on to write that he may be missing out on stories: “While I fuss over anonymity, my foodie friends introduce themselves to the chef so they can watch her butcher a pig for their blogs.” We have one piece of advice: Don’t do it Ruby!

While we enjoy in-depth articles about butchers hacking open pig carcasses, we also appreciate well reasoned reviews of new restaurants. We love linking to them, too. Actually, Chicago needs more critics with such high standards to help us wade through the ever expanding restaurant scene. We can’t be the only ones out there mourning the relative lack of new reviews from Michael Nagrant. Sure, there are probably more reviews out there about restaurants than ever before, but if Yelp has taught us anything, it’s that writing an interesting and informative review about a new restaurant is surprisingly hard.

That isn’t to say that a critic must always stay a critic, or that writers of in-depth food articles can’t make a go at reviewing. A completely anonymous restaurant reviewer might be an impossibility these days thanks to the internet. That said, critics can also tell when they are getting the royal treatment and adjust their reviews accordingly. Talking with some chefs, they’ve let us know that they while they send their best waiters to tables with critics, they also don’t try to change the experience to let on that they know. Essentially, even if all anonymity is a sham, it’s a sham that ends up helping readers decide where to eat.

So keep up with those fake names Ruby. And please, just let us know when that review of Next will be coming out.

Anonymous Restaurant Reviewing: Journalistic Gold Standard or Antiquated Parlor Game? [Chicago Magazine]

Do You Like Your Critics to be Anonymous?