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suggestions for food critiquing

chowhound Mar 11, 1998 02:15 PM

Dear Critics:

I am writing this note to find out how others in this area of expertise
critique the establishments which they visit. Our city is a small one and
contains many establishments in the food service industry. Our people are
growing in their expertise and are often small business men and women who
put everything on the line for the love of service and food. Our present
food critic is one of experience only; no "formal" education has been
obtained. She has taken courses, written a book, and has travelled. A
resume that indeed can be impressive. Our dilemma, I put forth, is a
request for information and recommendations for critiquing that we might
incorporate and suggest to our own "incogneto" visitor. The reason a
person like myself and others in the industry are branching out to you, is
that we feel the critiquing has damaged our establishments enough and it
has even been the fall for some. We believe critiquing is welcome, but on
a more positive and constructive basis. Thus benefitting both the
establishment and the clientele. We have received information on other
critiquing methods where the establishment is visited and constructive
criticism is offered. The establishment then is able to work on these
areas where it is weak and then has a second opportunity for the critique
to return within a 6 month period, "incognito", and report the results in
the daily news; either boosting the establishment or vise versa. Another
suggestion was to allow those whom do not wish to be critiqued to list
their names on a roster with others who allow only the clientele to make
the decision, without the critique's involvement. We feel in today's
society, having a business is so difficult and competition extremely
rampant that it is only fair to allow the entrepreneur this privilege.
When someone opens up a flower shop, hair salon ( both small business) are
they critiqued? Restaurants are continually up against the wall with
health inspectors, changing trends, coupons, etc.

Restaurants open and close on an ongoing basis. They offer employment,
from professional chefs to accountants, and even dishwashers. We give back
to the community and take our part in trying to build up the economy. We
work long hours and all for the love of the work. Your suggestions would
be welcomed and appreciated. Thanking you in advance,

Gwen Jolicoeur

  1. p
    Pete Feliz Mar 19, 1998 03:30 PM

    To Amy, Janet, Patricia, and Josh:

    Thank you for your voices of support regarding my reaction to "Suggestions for critiques", though I've got to admit Josh hit it on the nose more succintly and with less acromony than I. I just saw the "suggestions" as a left handed attempt to censor unfavorable criticism of one's own establishment (or that of one's friend or relative). It's bad enough that most of what passes for restaurant reviews are merely ads bought and paid for by the restaurants being "reviewed." But I think Josh saw it more clearly. Just someone looking for restaurant consulting on the cheap. Again, Thanks.

    1. j
      Josh Mar 18, 1998 01:02 PM

      It took me a few days before I realized why I found
      your note objectionable: You're asking for free
      consulting services.

      Reviewers work for their publishers and, indirectly,
      for their readers. Their responsibility is to provide
      complete, unbiased, accurate information about what
      restaurants are doing _now_. You're asking them to
      analyze your business, suggest improvements, and then
      evaluate your response. That's a perfectly reasonable
      service, but it's called "restaurant consultant" and
      you have to pay for it.

      I'm sure that if you offer the going rate for
      consultants, there are plenty of people who would be
      happy to work for you.

      1. p
        Pete Feliz Mar 11, 1998 05:35 PM


        May I suggest to you that you get out of the restaurant business all together. It seems you are clearly unable to handle the criticism that restaurants must endure. I've no need to build up a restaurant's business. I only need great food at a great price and a great time. Now I realize restaurants employ many people, I was on many occasions one of those employed, and the restauranteur did not allow me one New York second of time to build up my reputation, and my abilities. That person canned my butt more unceremoniously than any critic has panned a restaurant.
        It's also true that flower shops and hair salons are not critiqued by the media. I wish they were. They might save me some bad bouquets and lousey haircuts.
        I think the critereon necessary for a restaurant critic, is simple. They recommend a place, I go and if I like it, then maybe I'll read the critic again for another recommendation. Also, if I find a restaurant I like, and the critic in question likes it too, then maybe I'll read their reviews again. Also, if they write something I disagree with, our tastes diverge...well maybe we'll agree to disagree, or maybe I'll part company. There are more important things than restaurant reviews, but nothing's more important than good food.
        Finally, if you are a New Yorker, I assume you speak of Ruth Reichl as the critic in question. From your missive I'd rather have Ruth as my restaurant critic than you as my restaurant host. And I don't much care for Ruth's reviews.


        Peter S. Feliz

        3 Replies
        1. re: Pete Feliz
          Janet Traub Mar 15, 1998 06:44 PM


          That was an excellent reply and just so Gwen doesn't
          think you're the lone mean chowhound, I second it!


          1. re: Janet Traub
            patricia Mar 17, 1998 06:50 PM

            indeed! another thanks to you, peter. tritely - if
            you can't stand the heat.....there are a host of
            establishments that seem not to realize that they are
            first SERVICE establishments - they're there for the
            customer, and the customer needs to have reason to
            appreciate them. restaurants have a complex system that
            delivers a specific service (dinner, or lunch, or
            breakfast) customers need to know what to expect from
            each facet of service - isn't that what restaurant
            criticism is about? It's not there to be "instructive"
            for the staff. They're supposed to know what they're

          2. re: Pete Feliz
            Amy Keyishian Mar 16, 1998 01:28 PM

            Wow. Peter, I'm so glad you wrote your response. I have
            tried and tried to figure out what the heck this person
            is talking about ... and can't get through her wall of
            muddled prose.

            From what I can figure out, she wants us all to have
            crappy food so we won't hurt restaurants with our
            petty complaints.

            Urr? (sound of golden retriever cocking head in dismay
            and non-comprehension)


          3. f
            From gwen joliceur Mar 11, 1998 02:21 PM

            Sorry I did not add my e-mail address. The address is to be added to the suggestions for restaurant critiquing

            2 Replies
            1. re: From gwen joliceur
              Amy Keyishian Mar 24, 1998 10:55 AM

              I can't believe this person has not returned to face
              her flurry of responses! Coward.

              1. re: Amy Keyishian
                Pete Feliz Mar 25, 1998 08:24 PM

                She E-mailed me personally. It was as equally bizarre as her posting here.

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