What is the purpose of a food critic in modern times?


What is the purpose of a food critic in modern times?

What is the purpose of a food critic in modern times?

As the food critic Fay Maschler marks 40 years in the job, it is an opportune time to look at the role critics play in the hospitality industry and how it has changed over time. These days food critics are seen as much as a source of entertainment as providing a useful service, but this is not the case, as even the best restaurants need their critics in order to maintain standards and improve.

Critics such as Maschler, who has written for the London Evening Standard throughout her career, understand the importance of a quality review, not just one which inflates the ego of a chef or establishment. She said in an interview with Caterer and Hotelkeeper: "They just write and photograph everything they eat and enthuse without much discernment, which isn't terribly useful or interesting." So a reviewer must have certain credentials, including being independent, but also having knowledge of the industry and what a service should be like in order to give it a proper evaluation.

Restaurant reviews in newspapers and magazines are nothing new, as Maschler would attest and go beyond even her 40 years and while this is the form that many people are familiar with, they are by no means the only restaurant reviewers operating today.

The best restaurants have their establishments critiqued on a regular basis by
mystery diners so as to obtain these independent reviews from a good quality source. While many reviews in newspapers are sought to promote a restaurant, those carried out by mystery diners look to identify any areas which could be improved and therefore work as an internal service for the restaurant itself. Conversely reviews can be a great source of motivation and fault is not found simply for the sake of it with positive feedback also being given and passed onto staff who have performed particularly well.

The internet in the modern age has brought about a change where every Tom, Dick and Harry can give their opinions on establishments, making them all feel like food critics. While customer-generated reviews are incredibly important, they provide a different service to that of the food critic, who sets themselves apart with their knowledge and experience of the industry.
Customer feedback can be all the more useful if it is presented through a structured scheme and presented to the restaurant as opposed to staff finding them on blogs and articles on the internet.

So even though the role of the food critic is evolving with time and many people see them as a source of entertainment, look deeper, as they serve an important in the hospitality industry. Without them, it would be easy for even the best to sit back and rest on their laurels.

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