Help! I think......

Joined Nov 20, 2000
Good morning all. I need, well quite honestly I'm not sure what I need. Advice, a pep talk, suggestions, past experiences, etc.
I received an e-mail this morning from the Features editor of the local newspaper (a Gannett paper!) I had asked a couple of years ago about restaurant critic positions. Now they are looking for one and she got my e-mail from the editor and asked me to apply for the job. It's for one review a week (paid) at middle to high end restaurants. Thanks to Cheftalk I have a couple of published examples of my writing to offer. I'm nervous about if I got the gig, about actually performing it.
So before you offer any congrats, I don't have the gig yet, but do you have anything to say?
Thanks and keep your fingers crossed for me. While not a full time gig I have always wanted to do something like this! Thank god I saved the article "So you want to be a restaurant critic" by my critic hero Phyllis Richman! Now I just have to find it!
Joined Jul 23, 2002
Don't fret Chrose! New gigs always make me nervous even when it's something I'm super comfortable with. If you aren't nervous then something is wrong. It's something you've wanted to do for a while! Go for it! Be nervous and kick critic butt!
Joined Sep 21, 2001
You are just like the rest of us. A jaded, middle-aged culinary thrillseeker with a penchant towards verboseness. You'll do just fine.
Joined Jan 5, 2001
I think it's a bit harder for us who have worked in the industry, because the role of a restaurant critic has a different meaning than for the average restaurant goer. We know all too well what we don't want a critic to be/write. Coming up with a format and a rule for content that we are happy with is quite challenging.

Chrose, whatever you do, stick to your vision and your style. I know you'll do well. Once you start going, you'll see that you are a fountain of inspiration. Good luck!
Joined Jul 3, 2002
This is great news! And I'm with Miahoyhoy about the nerves. If it didn't matter to you, you'd just be calm. It's great to want something and even better to have a shot at it, so just look at the nerves as waves of enthusiastic energy :bounce:
What does the application process entail? If this one doesn't come through, it might help you organize your information for a "cold call" to other places. But I think you'll do just fine on this one. You know your stuff.

And I'd love to read your ChefTalk pieces, but I'm guessing they are listed under your actual name :p . Could you post a link to them?


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
The trick is to write honestly but with out too much overt negativity. Where Newspapers are written on about a 6th grade level and the common reader doesn't know food in detail, writing critically without flaming negativity is a tough balance.

Add in the advertising dollars in the food review section are coming from the food industry and it's a tightrope to please yourself, the readers, editors and advertisers.

Joined Feb 16, 2004
Hi Chrose,
Good for you ! I write for a major newspaper too. I write about people who produce something special related to food only. In the beginning I thought it would be a piece of cake but it does cost me a lot of energy to get it just right. The inpact of a piece/revieuw in a paper can be huge. When I write about someone the extra attention they get is enormous so I really have to watch out how I formulate things, you can make or break someone, don't forget that!!! I also found out that readers only read what is written. Like if you write about a certain dish, the reader will only come to the restaurant for that certain dish, they don't look further...but in the end it's lots of fun and you get to come to places that stay closed for most of us! :bounce:
Joined Jan 24, 2003
Cool right on sis....go get em....however you do realise that this will make you the enemy LOL....hope you get it ....there cant be many better jobs than that.
Joined May 26, 2001
Suzanne says . . . blah blah blah as usual ASK THEM A LOT OF QUESTIONS IN THE INTERVIEW.

Ask them how they view your/the paper's role in promoting restaurants.
Ask them whether the paper's customers fot the reviews are its readers, its advertisers, or the places being reviewed.
Ask them how many times you have to eat at a place before you review it, and how many people you can bring with you each time.
Ask them how they assign places to review.
Ask them if they will expect you to eat stuff that you can't (if you have medical reasons, or deep-seated aversions -- after all, you're not Jeffrey Steingarten, YET ;) )
Ask them if your friend from NYC can come help you out sometimes. :D

And finally, you might want to have a look at this thread of advice for another newly-hired critic. :eek:

I'll keep my fingers crossed for you. :bounce: :bounce:
Joined Mar 19, 2004
This is a great opportunity! I would jump all over it - and then do tons of research - buy a NYTimes style sheet, a book on writing styles, or going over back issues of reviews...
Either way, if you have always wanted something like this, you have to give it a try - otherwise, you may look back and regret that you didn't.

Good luck and let us know what happens!!!
Joined Nov 20, 2000
Thanks everyone for the words of encouragement and advice, I will use all of it! (Peach, you kill me, you are so right :D )
I still await word. I called the editor yesterday and asked if there was anything I could do to further my cause and she told me that she was going to review what I sent. So I sit with baited breath and hope and pray I get the opportunity!
I will keep you informed, and I mean, really thank you for the great advice, all of you! :)


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
Hmmm, seems like at least half the reviews I read are terrible. Might not be such a great gig after all!

Go for it! :)
Joined Jul 31, 2000

You are a fine man and an honest heart,

Many will benefit from your insights. Good luck.

I hope I have the oppurtunity to read you.

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