HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >

Sifton leaving [moved from Manhattan]

Chuck Lawrence Sep 13, 2011 11:41 AM

via Twitter:
I'm stepping down as restaurant critic to be the national editor of The Times. #checkplease

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. s
    small h RE: Chuck Lawrence Sep 13, 2011 11:47 AM

    Shall we credit WWD with the scoop?


    Who do you think will replace him? Eater has a few ideas:


    1. p
      peter j RE: Chuck Lawrence Sep 13, 2011 12:05 PM


      1. b
        Blumie RE: Chuck Lawrence Sep 13, 2011 12:52 PM

        That was fast.

        I much preferred Sifton's writing to Bruni's, but I found Bruni's tastes to be more in line with my own.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Blumie
          kevin RE: Blumie Sep 13, 2011 12:55 PM

          I'm definitely available to review restaurants full-time for the New York Times.

          Please contact me at your earliest convenience and I'm ready to go and relocate.

          Thank you very much, though I will need a new gym membership and a personal trainer, and those quirky flashlights so that I may run for miles through Central Park in those late evening hours.

          NYC here I come.

          1. re: Blumie
            windycity RE: Blumie Sep 13, 2011 01:03 PM

            Agreed. Sifton's an entertaining writer but I don't really like his taste in food. I'd rather have someone whose tastes I can trust when I go out to eat.

            1. re: Blumie
              Delucacheesemonger RE: Blumie Sep 14, 2011 09:22 AM


            2. e
              edwardspk RE: Chuck Lawrence Sep 13, 2011 01:51 PM

              Can't say I'm disappointed. I was often astounded by some of his star ratings and how incongruous the reviews were with the stars he assigned.

              4 Replies
              1. re: edwardspk
                ferventfoodie RE: edwardspk Sep 14, 2011 11:57 AM

                As a former restaurant reviewer, I can tell you that most of the critics I knew and/ or worked
                with would have been delighted to eliminate the "star" system, which can be very
                subjective. This would also force the reader to really read the review and not just
                rely on the star rating which I think many people (not Chowhounders, of course!) do.
                Those ratings, obviously, do not tell the whole story

                1. re: ferventfoodie
                  kevin RE: ferventfoodie Sep 14, 2011 11:59 AM

                  How did you get into restaurant reviewing? How'd you get the gig?

                  1. re: kevin
                    ferventfoodie RE: kevin Sep 14, 2011 12:08 PM

                    I had a background in journalism and corporate communications but had left the field
                    and was managing a cooking school where I had taken many courses. The food
                    editor of one of the local papers called my boss looking for suggestions for a new
                    reviewer and my name was passed along. I went on a trial review (for which I was
                    paid and got expenses) and got the gig. Eventually, I wound up writing two weekly
                    food-related columns as well.

                    1. re: ferventfoodie
                      kevin RE: ferventfoodie Sep 14, 2011 12:46 PM

                      Sweet, sounds awesome. just what I want to do.

                      Although I guess that would not work as well in this day and age since everyone is a food blogger of some sort.

                      I'm presuming most of the restaurant critics that get the job at the NY Times were working as journalists previously for the NY Times. Evenn if it had nothing whatsoever to do with food and restaurants.

              2. a
                Ann900 RE: Chuck Lawrence Sep 13, 2011 02:29 PM

                As a journalist, I'm far more appalled that he's going to be the NATIONAL EDITOR of the Times Although, as something of a foodie, I'd have to agree that he was not much of a restaurant critic, either.

                6 Replies
                1. re: Ann900
                  Icabod RE: Ann900 Sep 14, 2011 06:07 AM

                  Lol I can imagine a routine political story under the Sifton regime...

                  “A low murmur permeated the tenebrous chamber as the assembled silver-haired fiftysomethings in Brooks Brothers suits and J Press shirts took their dark wooden seats, shaking hands and trading stories about their latest round at Kinloch or weekend at the Vineyard….”

                  I kid, of course, but seriously the writing in his restaurant reviews was not good. All the florid prose and long-winded descriptions of the scene were distracting and struck me as pretty self-indulgent. Wish him all the best, but I'm glad he's passing the torch on NYT food reviews.

                  1. re: Icabod
                    hazelhurst RE: Icabod Sep 14, 2011 06:53 AM

                    I was thinking of pieces such as "The economic program that took shape in the bearnaise colored building with the entrecote bercy trim ran up against the Congress and crumbled like supreme de volaille under Escoffier's mallet."

                    Kinloch is too....well, nouveau, donchathink?

                    1. re: Icabod
                      SmallGoodThings RE: Icabod Sep 14, 2011 10:24 AM

                      Self-indulgent is exactly what it was. I am 100% with you on this.

                    2. re: Ann900
                      Simon RE: Ann900 Sep 15, 2011 07:30 AM

                      Ann900, that was my appalled reaction too...especially because Sifton's restaurant reviews were always so bizarrely uneditted w/ no sense of what was revelant or appropriate (the whole Jay-Z digression "Hova looks at his cards 'Wow. Oh wow'" in his review of The Dutch is the one that really made me embarassed for the NY Times)...i was also appalled on how Abramson justified his promotion to National Editor by saying that he had brought "newsiness" (!*(&!&!) to the Culture desk..."newsiness"?!?!?!...that paper is a total joke...

                      Happy he's gone as restaurant critic, but pathetic for the Times to let someone fail upward...

                      1. re: Simon
                        kevin RE: Simon Sep 15, 2011 11:45 AM

                        yeah, and in this day and age, they get great cushy jobs and us struggling bloggers and writers, get almost nothing????

                        what an indignity?

                        i'm not trying to be mean, but how does this happen? there are many others who would kill for their NY Times gigs.

                        1. re: kevin
                          soupkitten RE: kevin Sep 15, 2011 04:24 PM

                          maybe you should be proactve, Kevin. apply for the job. waiting around to be discovered is no way to roll. . .

                    3. s
                      SmallGoodThings RE: Chuck Lawrence Sep 14, 2011 10:21 AM


                      I think restaurant reviews should be first and foremost about the food, but too often Sifton dedicated an overlarge portion of his review to his apparent fascination with socialites. I'm not a trendy beautiful person, and I'm not interested in what trendy beautiful people do or do not eat. I'm interested in food, decor, and service.

                      But my real problem with Sifton is his writing style. I am willing to set aside his constant juxtaposition of two sets of pairs without an "and" -- for instance, "It is a fantastic salad, at once sweet and salty, crisp and slick." But since I've brought it up, let's talk about "slick." Everything he reviewed sat on a slick of something, or was covered by a slick of something else. Desmond's cobb salad was bedecked with "slick avocado." At Imperial No. Nine, re: the tuna dish, "everything slick with mustard oil." "Slick plum wine jelly." "Slick olive oil." "sardines marinated in slick oil." Look: all writers have writerly reflexes and stylistic flourishes -- and food writers are no exception -- but in my opinion these should be applied with judicious restraint, lest they overwhelm. Just because you can use an adjective doesn't mean you should. Oil is always slick. Pointing it out time and time again is neither informative nor insightful. Let's just say I'm glad he'll be behind the editor's desk once more.

                      (Thank you all for indulging my rant -- this has been festering for some time.)

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: SmallGoodThings
                        kevin RE: SmallGoodThings Sep 14, 2011 10:38 AM

                        You are very welcome. Now with writing that sounds it's not so great for the NYTimes restaurant pages, how do these critics get their jobs???

                        Wouldn't it be swell if a hard-working individual within the Chowhound ranks (i.e. a frequent, devoted, Chowhound poster) got the New York Times restaurant critic position???

                        By the way, when is Sifton's last review in the Times going to be?

                        1. re: kevin
                          soupkitten RE: kevin Sep 14, 2011 12:04 PM

                          here's the boston globe, on replacement possibilities


                        2. re: SmallGoodThings
                          rteplow RE: SmallGoodThings Sep 15, 2011 05:50 AM

                          LOL! I thought I was the only one who noticed his overuse of that word.

                          1. re: rteplow
                            SmallGoodThings RE: rteplow Sep 15, 2011 10:03 AM

                            I'm so glad I'm not alone!

                            Have you noticed that it's actually spreading to the rest of the section? I was distressed to find the following in a recent article from Ligaya Mishan, who is ordinarily very good: "In our house in Hawaii, we ate canned peaches, the flesh lurid and spongy, slick with syrup." And Melissa Clark, too, seems to have succumbed to the contagion (Aug. 19: "slick of good olive oil"). I'm glad Sam's going, but I just hope it isn't too late...

                            1. re: SmallGoodThings
                              kevin RE: SmallGoodThings Sep 15, 2011 11:46 AM

                              isn't slick also very appetite inducing????

                              NOT. :)

                              1. re: kevin
                                condiment RE: kevin Sep 15, 2011 08:53 PM

                                Slicked is a precise, perfectly good word in a food context. But if you must blame somebody, blame Seymour Britchky, who began the trope back in the 1970s.

                        3. s
                          Simon RE: Chuck Lawrence Sep 17, 2011 08:59 AM

                          another example of his awful writing today: while reviewing a Czech restaurant on the UES, he calls it "Dvorak in a Thom Browne suit"...isn't there ANYONE editting the Times who might call him aside and say "Uhhh, Sam, that sentence tells us nothing about the food and doesn't really make any sense at all -- let's cut that line, okay?"...i'm just shocked and dismayed that writing that awful is condoned...

                          Show Hidden Posts