Ta-da! Today Los Angeles gets a brand-new restaurant critic, as Besha Rodell introduces herself in L.A. Weekly. The natural-born Aussie-turned-New Yorker-flown-South relays an experience many transplants have of falling in love with this unfathomable new city and shoves the elephant out of the room in saying, “Rather than try to emulate the seasoned L.A. critics, I hope to use my outsider status to see things fresh,” which is a boon for anyone seeking voices from beyond the bubble.
Contemplating the simple beauty of a single ingredient at critical-darling Mozza might be a bit of a well-trodden launching pad (a walnut supposedly enraptures her with L.A.), but her hobby of “devouring a city,” sans the baggage of having local chef friends in high places, can only serve the freewheeling spread of L.A. Rodell next lays out her approach to what she holds dear as a critic.
The critic says she’s no longer in the game to criticize minute details of service with her keen eye, trained in her days as a cook and manager, but to absorb and express context, pinpointing what a “restaurant is trying to achieve and whether it is achieving that thing, rather than holding everything up to one rigid standard.”
In addition to the goal of cracking us up a little, Rodell discloses, “I’m a believer in the old-school theory of restaurant criticism, the one Craig Claiborne invented at The New York Times in the 1960s: I like to wait until a restaurant has been open for a month before visiting for review purposes, I visit multiple times, and I always pay my own way. I try to remain anonymous, and when that’s impossible, I stay as under-the-radar as possible.”
Rodell then leaves her email, asking readers to engage in a dialogue and tell her what they’d like to see her tackle in the months to come. While we attempt to connect her with this exiled prince in Nigeria we know, who’s just sitting on a bunch of trapped funds he’d like to access, we look forward to finally reading her first real L.A. restaurant review next week.