The life of a restaurant critic might seem like a pretty sweet deal; eating out at some of the finest restaurants in the world and making a comfortable living at it to boot. But as New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni recently revealed in a CNN article, keeping one’s anonymity while reviewing restaurants can be a daunting task for even the stealthiest of secret agents.
Bruni states that it is becoming increasingly difficult to report on typical dining experiences when chefs recognize the critic and deliver an exceptionally attentive meal. Many New York City chefs have admitted to keeping their staff on alert for respected critics, some chefs going as far as offering generous rewards to employees able to single them out. Because of this, critics like Bruni cannot adequately inform the public as to the service and quality that they would experience on an average visit.
In order to deliver more honest and impartial critiques, Bruni has gone to such extremes as wearing wigs and using credit cards with aliases. In response to these efforts of anonymity, chefs have created “dossiers” on Bruni with lists of known aliases, dining companions, and disguises in order to spot him when he comes in. This ongoing game of restaurant espionage has lead Bruni to speculate that it’s now nearly impossible for critics to receive impartial treatment while critiquing restaurants.
There are some dining aspects related to the cuisine, menu, and décor that are impossible to change upon discovering a critic in your restaurant, but one has to wonder at the future of restaurant reviews where what you read is not necessarily what you get.
Follow this link for the full CNN article "Restaurant Critics Struggle to Stay Anonymous":