Following 2010’s ungracious unmasking of critic S. Irene Virbila and the frequent public appearances of Jonathan Gold at panel discussions, cooking competitions, and his own name-branded food events, we were actually looking forward to having an anonymous restaurant critic in L.A. again after learning that Australian-born ninja Besha Rodell was recently named Gold’s successor as the restaurant critic at L.A. Weekly. Unfortunately for anyone who feels the same way, Eater claims to have let the Besha out of the burka before the Atlanta-based scribe officially starts the job. The blog makes no bones about exposing the unseen critic’s face and even asks readers to send along a better picture. That being said, one of the nicer commentators on the site is claiming the photo is not of Rodell, so we thought we’d ask L.A. Weekly’s food editor, Amy Scattergood, to shine some light on the subject.
Scattergood, who was yet to see the post until we started bugging her, tells us in an official statement via email that it doesn’t matter either way. She explains:
The anonymous critic is a conceit these days anyway. A restaurant critic’s anonymity is more metaphorical than anything else: the goal is aesthetic objectivity rather than being invisible, or wearing a wig and funny glasses like Peter Sellers dressed in drag as Ruth Reichl. Whether chefs recognize Besha seems less important than her recognizing the importance of their food, which is actually easier to do without a fake mustache. So is the woman in that terrible photo her? I think so. It’s kind of hard to tell.
As the esteemed editor points out, the rather rough quality of Eater’s Flickr photo makes it a little difficult to distinguish much detail, meaning if Rodell is indeed the person in the picture and still values her anonymity, a few tweaks should be able to keep her identity under wraps. But what a way to roll out the welcome mat, eh? At least now Rodell can plainly see just what kind of adversary she’s dealing with as she sets up shop in L.A.