Why Food Critics Don’t Matter

300SquareThere are only two professions that I am aware of where 1) someone gets hired to masquerade as someone who can’t say no 2) a person gets paid to do what other people consider a pleasure and 3) they usually declare themselves disgusted afterward. And I should tell you that the ‘other’ one is a hooker! I think that it was Bob Hope who checked into a hotel in Vegas and called down to reception asking them to send up a $100 prostitute. 10 minutes later a bearded academic with a clip board arrived at his door.

Food critics were once the scourge of restaurants, armed with their antiquated cameras and little notebooks they would terrorize restaurants the world over.  Just the thought that a food critic was visiting your restaurant sent you scurrying for extra staff and doubling your management presence for the evening. The funny thing, nowadays is… No body cares! These once influential voices have made themselves irrelevant.

We all heard Thabo Mbeki’s call for an inquiry into the Xenophobic attacks that plagued our country  a few years ago, but most of us thought “Wow, what a desperate attempt to stay relevant! You never called for a single inquiry during your two term presidency, in fact we barely saw you” And so it is when I open The Times Newspaper and read the incoherent waffling of ‘The Breakfast Bandit’ or should that be ‘The Bleakest Blandest’ that I realise his 15 minutes of fame passed a long time ago. It is irrelevant whether he is right or wrong, whether his tastes are the same as mine or not, whether he liked a restaurant or not, what matters most is that nobody cares, and for heaven’s sake, the man can’t even piece a sentence together.

What has changed so significantly so as to render this once powerful group of influencers irrelevant? Times for one and the way information is assimilated for another. We no longer believe the drivel we read in the papers or hear on TV, in fact we would trust a recommendation from a friend with whom we share common interest on his Facebook profile, before we took the word of some ‘wannabe journalist’ who gets paid to be controversial in the futile hope that it will increase newspaper or magazine sales. We no longer go out looking for the news, the news finds us. Through blogs, micro blogs like twitter, facebook, YouTube and countless other forms of social networking we have come to rely on our peers for information that is relevant and believable. Restaurants should be more concerned about a customer with an iPhone or a Blackberry than a strange freeloader with the words ‘Food Critic’ tattooed on their forehead.

I tried desperately to make sense of what The Bleakest Blandest was waffling on about in his cryptic style and overuse of fluffy adverbs but for the life of me could not actually work out whether he had enjoyed his meal or not. Yet a simple tweet from a good friend telling me about a fantastic, reasonably priced meal at a previously unheard of restaurant has me doing a Google search for a phone number. My friend who happens to be in the interior design business does not go onto trash the decor because she can and because she knows, unlike our food critic, that I probably won’t be eating the decor. She does know that great food, great service and most of all great company, makes for a great meal. Now given that most food critics either dine alone or with other food critics explains why they are so friggin miserable.

When he finally got around to discussing the food, or at least I think he did amongst all that ‘stront’ he was spewing, my first thought was, “should I trust the ramblings of someone who was last completely satisfied when he stayed home and cooked himself a meal?” or should I trust the opinion of hundreds of friends who know me, know what I enjoy and don’t stand to gain financially from what recommendations they make? Wait, let me think, this is a tough one!

Take a moment to forward this to a friend, to share the link on Facebook or Twitter and I assure you more people will read and be influenced by this article than by anything ‘The Bleakest Blandest’ ever writes again. And the next time he writes about your restaurant… don’t give it another moments notice!

It would appear this little article is doing the rounds, thanks to Neil Pendock @Times Live http://bit.ly/d6FuqM

If Neil is being sent a few copies of the email, The Bleakest Blandist’s email box must be smokin’

Extract ~ “My e-mail in-box has been clogged with friends forwarding the demolition job on colleague the Breakfast Bandit headed “why food critics simply don’t matter!” Certainly foodies have been letting the side down recently with the microwaves full of the sounds of them ripping apart crayfish carapaces at Oyo and where was my invitation, anyway?”

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