Sunday, January 17, 2016
Peter Wells, NYT Food Critic, has lost his way. Food critics have always been tempted to exaggeration and food foppery to build a following but Mr. Wells’ focus on the food has blurred beyond the visible range. But does it really matter to the diner? No. There are better ways to find a restaurant we will enjoy. Does it matter to the those earning a living there? Unfortunately, yes. The critic wields the power to ruin a restaurant and the livelihoods of those working there with just a few irrelevant nasty words.
Popular Western chefs (Michel Richard, Thomas Keller, Guy Fiere) have provided targets for his idiotic similes and unrighteous indignation. He makes me ill.
11/13/2012 Guy Fiere http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/14/dining/reviews/restaurant-review-guys-american-kitchen-bar-in-times-square.html?_r=0
1/14/2014 Michel Richard http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/15/dining/restaurant-review-the-bistro-at-villard-michel-richard-in-midtown.html
1/13/2016 Thomas Keller http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/13/dining/pete-wells-per-se-review.html
Here are some quotes from his reviews that illustrate why I will probably not read a word of what he writes on restaurants or any topic in the future.
“When I asked to see the truffle being shaved over somebody else’s plate, it was whisked under my eyes for a nanosecond, as if the server were afraid I was going to sneeze. I know what truffles look like; what I wanted was to smell it.” OH THE HORROR. “May I smell the truffle?" would have worked.
“Once, the table was set for dessert so haphazardly that my spoon ended up next to my water glass instead of my plate.” OMG. I just can’t eat a dessert with a spoon near my water glass. I always pick a restaurant based on whether I see them using a ruler like they do at Downton Abbey.
“When my server asked, ‘Would you like the foie gras’— $40 more — ‘or the salad?,’ the question had an air of menace.” When foie gras and salad is a menace, walking from the cab to the restaurant must be truly terrifying. No wonder he doesn’t believe anyone should eat out.
“This unidentifiable paste coats your mouth until you can’t perceive textures or flavors. It is like edible Novocain.” Here Peter Wells reveals why he has no taste. He apparently knows what edible Novocain tastes like. We must assume it is what he snacks on in the cab on the way to his reviews.
“If soldiers had killed Escoffier’s family in front of him and then forced him to make dinner, this is what he would have cooked.” His worst characterization. Unfortunately one of Escoffier’s sons was indeed killed by a soldier. I’m sure karma will some day extract its due for this nasty comment.
Fortunately, the days when we had no choice but to follow Peter Wells are over. With careful reading, we the people can read what we the people have found during recent real dining experiences. Facebook, TripAdvisor, and Opentable, among others, give restaurants a chance to improve and diners a chance to see if the improvements have been made. It is not just the stars that fall when a single authority has lost his way and fallen onto the dark path of a nasty troll; the diners lose, the chef loses, and most important the lives of many workers are unfairly trashed.