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How to Become a Food Critic

Introducing new restaurants and dishes to the public is a demanding, competitive, and rewarding job. If you enjoy tasting a wide variety of food, wines and love to write, use the following steps to pursue a career as a food critic.


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    Develop fantastic writing skills as a newspaper reporter. You can have the most discriminating palate in the world, but you'll never make it as a food critic if you can't communicate well.
    • If you are heading to school, major in journalism or English. Work on the university paper and try to write as many articles as you can on food and the arts.
    • If you can't go to school full-time, try to take courses part-time and/or look into getting an internship at a local magazine or newspaper.
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    Become familiar with the restaurant business. At the very least, you should know how things operate behind the scenes.
    • Owning or co-owning a restaurant is very practical for a food critic.
    • If possible, work in restaurants and study how they work from top to bottom. Ask many questions. Educate yourself.
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    Test the limits of your palate. To be a food critic, you must have an incredible and adventurous palate.
    • Training your palate is like exercising a muscle: you need to be able to detect the subtle nuances of flavor and seasoning in food.
    • Try anything and everything you come across, no matter how strange or foreign it may seem, and record your impressions as descriptively as you can.
    • It really helps to be the kind of person who has tremendous zest for life willing to take many adventures and risks. This job is not for the faint-hearted.
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    Become an expert in food. Your goal should be to become a first-class connoisseur of cuisine. Food should become your life!
    • Read cookbooks by master chefs from all around the world.
    • Build your culinary vocabulary. Frequent fresh food markets and learn about produce and herb seasonings from all over the world.
    • Study the art of cooking. Take cooking classes non-stop. Make it your goal to attain a "chef" level in cooking.
    • Try to take a few wine classes and make many visits to wineries. A good appreciation of wine is crucial not only because it complements the food, but also because knowing how to taste wine can develop your palate.
    • Travel to food and wine festivals, from first class to the obscure. Be obsessive in your search for new food trends and ideas.
    • Consider becoming an expert on a certain food, such as dark chocolate, later in your career. Many food writers also immerse themselves in the history and culture of food to add depth to their articles.
    • Become fluent in an important food language like French, Spanish or Italian.
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    Research other food critics and chefs. This is imperative; everyone has their own style of food writing and you need to find your own "voice". Start by reading the works of:
    • Ruth Reichl
    • M.F.K. Fisher
    • A.J. Liebling
    • Elizabeth David
    • Calvin Trillin
    • A.A. Gill
    • Robert Courtine
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    Write reviews. Sign up for a free profile at and get some experience writing basic reviews of restaurants in your neighborhood. Then, try the following restaurant review method:
    • When you go to a new restaurant, go with three friends. Be sure to bring someone who can fill you in on a certain type of cuisine. Ex. if you’ll be having ethnic food, bringing someone who grew up in that region would be a big plus.
    • Ask everyone to order something different (including appetizers and dessert) and take two bits of every dish, including your own.
    • Then stop eating. The reason for this is twofold: it helps you maintain a healthy weight, and it helps leave enough room in your stomach for everything. (Besides, you can always ask to have things wrapped up and take them home, or your friends might have fun finishing what you didn't.)
    • Between each dish, try to take a mental snapshot of the dish, and remember your impressions of it.
    • Do not take notes at the restaurant. Wait until you get home, in the car, or even the bathroom. You don't want to tip the restaurant off that you're a reviewer.
    • Pay attention to the ambiance and service. Make note of anything that contributes to or takes away from the experience. Food critics often have an extensive checklist that includes, but is not limited to the impressiveness of the food.
    • After your first visit to the restaurant, do it all over again. This time, you and your companions should order dishes that you didn't have the time before. It’s only fair to try many different dishes before deciding how you're going to rate that restaurant.[1]
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    Don't become recognizable. Anonymity is important to the career of a food critic; once people know who you are, they'll try especially hard to make sure you enjoy their food which, while nice, can interfere with your review of the food. After all, your readers won't get that kind of treatment, and your job is to let them know what they can expect as an average person, not a food critic. [1]
    • Make reservations under a fake name (or else they might recognize your real name with what's published in the paper) and keep a low profile (don't go to benefits, wine dinners, or other gatherings
    • Don't appear on television or participate as a celebrity in events; don't accept offers to try a chef's cuisine).
    • Failing to keep your anonymity intact may warrant a lot of criticism from readers.[2]
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    Create a portfolio. If your plan is to become a food critic, then you must write all the time to have something to show to editors.
    • Be sure to include at least 40 articles that you have written on food, wine, restaurants, chefs, food festivals, etc.
    • Schedule writing one article a week until you build up a body of writing work.
    • Consider starting a blog.
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    Apply to different newspapers and magazines regarding writing food columns. A big part of your life will be writing newspaper stories about all aspects of food.
    • In most cases, you will not start out as a food critic; you will start at the very bottom. You might even get a job that doesn't have a thing to do with food, but it'll get your foot in the door.
    • Once you’re there, write about food on the side. You might inherit a food critic's position as a result.[1]


  • All food critics are food writers, but not all food writers are food critics. Remember that your job as a food critic is to scrutinize food and help the readers know if they'll enjoy it or not. If you give an inaccurate impression of the food, people will be dissatisfied with your work.
  • Enjoy the fact that you will spend hours poring over menus from all over the world; food is one way to become more familiar with other cultures.


  • After a negative or mixed review, be prepared for a barrage of e-mails from the restaurant's fans telling you that you don't know what you're talking about.

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