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How Much Power Does a Restaurant Critic Have?

You may have heard that Adam Platt, primary restaurant critic for New York magazine, recently revealed himself to the world at large after years of “anonymity”. Here he is on CBS This Morning explaining his decision:

Something we all know: for restaurant owners, a visit from the big-name food critic is an event. Even in this Yelp-powered “everyone’s voice counts” age, discerning diners still pay attention to people who get paid to write and talk about food.

Is that equation changing?

In both the interview and the article explaining his decision, Platt notes that restaurant owners (and, we assume, publicists) have always known how to spot the critics even if they’re technically “anonymous”. Yet the charade continues, because:

“…anonymity has been a powerful marketing tool. It’s lent a sense of impartiality and Oz-like mystery to the dark art of restaurant criticism.”

Truth. Case in point: try to find images of Rob Patronite & Robin Raisfeld, the print mag’s other big restaurant reviewers. You’ll come up empty.

Given the ability of chefs and owners to monitor and respond to their fans and haters online, we have to wonder how much real power the professional critic has today. To readers who’ve worked in the food biz: Does this anonymity thing really matter? Have we entered a new era in restaurant publicity, or what?

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