Got you with the title huh? I’m getting better at this blogging thing.
This time, I’d like to tell you about my experience reviewing restaurants. I’ve been doing this for a little over a year a very amateurish, yet fun level and that’s cool, you know? Not everything one does has to be for a profit. any of you have asked what is like to be a restaurant reviewer so I’ve collected some of the most relevant questions fired at me and answered in my own opinion… Mom’s gonna love this!
During my time as a reviewer, many of you have asked what is like to be a restaurant reviewer and what happens during the reviews so I’ve collected some of the most amusing questions and hopefully you’ll get a taste of what’s like making reviews at restaurants.
What happens at restaurant reviews?
Have a look at the following video:
As you can see, they’re just like dinner with friends.
Are you a professional food critic?
Good question! No, I’m not. I don’t think that profession officially exists. Those guys you read on the Sunday supplement are usually journalists specializing in food, They’re mostly freelancers and get paid by PR and marketing agencies hired by restaurants to promote them. I only do this on my spare time and the reviews don’t get past the food portal. The rest of them are foodies or food bloggers.
I want to be a foodie, how did you become a foodie?
Start a blog, add “foodie” to your name, eat out at least 3 times a week, take terrible pictures of your food, have an opinion about everything and pretend you know everything about food and the industry. If you can’t eat out that often, then post recipes you cook at home with pictures of your over-styled kitchen and dining table. Don’t forget about Instagram.
Now seriously… I don’t know, I don’t think of myself as a foodie coming from the f&b industry and still working directly with it. I prefer the term gastronome. I’d advise you learn food, know food and develop an exceptional taste and an eye for details. Eat and drink a lot and have a bit of an understanding on how the whole food industry works. Loving food is not enough. My favorite “foodies” are ex-chefs, sommeliers and journalists.
Do you think your opinion matters when someone tries to book a table at a restaurant you’ve reviewed?
I hope so! The point of reviewing is to give readers an idea of what they can expect at a restaurant,…or to promote something.
Do you review as a mistery-dinner, do you pay for your food, do you get paid for it?
Geez, easy tiger! Ok, let’s go by parts… No, for the food portal that I’m reviewing at the moment, all the reviews are pre-arranged. No, I don’t pay for any of the meals, however, I always tip. Lastly, no, I don’t get paid for it, like I mentioned before, it’s something I do on my spare time.
Do you get treated differently while reviewing?
Yes but not in a privileged way. Some places like to spoil us, others don’t care. Either way is fine with me. At a personal level, I don’t like being treated better than the rest of the dinners. I’m taking the space eating for free and asking tons of questions while those guys are paying.
How do you remember everything you had on a review?
I rely on notes and pictures. Writing ideas and emotions is easier than trying to put sentences together. For example, I describe what a wine makes me feel or what a dish reminds me of. I have a terrible memory for names, labels, menus and anything written or said, but I’m lucky to have a photographic and sensory memory so when I look at the pictures I take, I remember what the food was like.
I guess being a food photographer, you take your own pictures, how do you cope with writing, tasting and operating the camera?
The review format is fairly simple, so that makes things easier. Picture wise, I just take snaps and record shots of what I’m eating, I try to get a well-lit picture. But pictures come right after the dish arrives otherwise, I forget to take them.
If you’re a food photographer, why the pictures on your reviews are shit?
Hahahaha, love this one! Glad you asked. It’s an informative review so I’m not aiming at taking pictures with a commercial value for others to use. I try to shoot as it would look if you were there. Also, I’m drinking, I’m chatting, I’m taking notes and having a good time so photography is secondary.
Is your personal opinion reflected on the reviews?
Not entirely, no. I have to be very diplomatic and fair. They’re honest reviews but having a strong background in fine dining is not a good thing in this case. I have to ignore personal tastes and think objectively. They are reviews, not critiques.
Do you have a say on where to eat, are the restaurants always good?
At times, yes. Mostly they ask me if I can go somewhere and yes, most of the times, restaurants are pretty good. There’s been just one time that I had to tell the editor they were not worth the effort. They sent a less “picky” reviewer I guess.
Are you trying to follow a career as a food critic
Not at the moment, I’m very happy being a food photographer but I wouldn’t mind being a Michellin Star inspector.
Are all the places good, have you had any bad experiences?
Most of them are great, no complaints so far. Only once at xxxxx, it was terrible! I reported back to the office saying it wasn’t worth the effort. They sent a less “picky” reviewer days later.
Have you got any plans to start your own reviewing page or blog?
Nope, there are too many already.
If you have to choose between eating in at home or going to your favorite restaurant for a review, what would you choose?
Eating in at home for sure. The editor still can’t believe I prefer to cook my own steaks than eating at a top steak restaurant… he hasn’t tried my hand diced beef with chimichurri yet.
I think this should give you an idea of what’s like reviewing restaurants. If you want deeper, more serious answers, talk to a foodie or a food critic.
Send in your questions if you have any, if you have an opinion, send it through as well.