Do Restaurant Reviews Really Matter?

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It used to be that reviewing restaurants was a job reserved solely for a handful of faceless food critics, who had the time—and budget—to arrange multiple visits, get an accurate and balanced sense of the full scope of the menu, and weigh in with their carefully considered opinions (at the most) once a week. Then came the internet age, and with it, platforms like Chow and Yelp, that allowed everyone with an account to wax poetic and allot stars, and in some cases, directly affect the fate of fledgling eateries. Even professional blogs and websites have succumbed to the pressure of being first on the scene, frantically filing posts on brand new establishments, before they’ve even had the chance to stumble through a single week of service.

That’s why we’ve assembled an especially knowledgeable and diverse panel for Taste Talks, from Ruggy Joesten of the oft-reviled Yelp to Sam Sifton of the New York Times, who’ll contribute to a roundtable conversation on the future of food criticism. And to set the scene, we spoke to moderator Adam Sachs, the editorial director of Tasting Table, on what attendees can expect.

On the Relevance of Restaurant Reviews:

The question of the future of restaurant criticism is, of course, part of the bigger and endless and kinda profound and sometimes tiresome conversation about every kind of authority in the age of the universal commentary. Paying someone to do a job (in this case, writing about what they ate) is no guarantee they’ll do it better than someone else. And crowd sourcing it is no guarantee of compelling or comprehensible critiques. Restaurant reviewing, both pro and amateur, has a future only so long as it’s accurate, useful, pleasantly diverting and relevant to an audience willing to find and fund it.

On His Personal Mission as a Critic:

I’m excited to hear some very informed and divergent views from this panel. At Tasting Table, we view ourselves as culinary enthusiasts. We’re out there eating (and paying for our meals) and cooking and we’re into sharing the kind curated advice you’d give to a friend. We’re not a weekly review in a newspaper and we’re not a blog dishing industry gossip. It’s a loud and crowded food media landscape out there. We’re just trying to help our readers cut through some of that noise and guide them to restaurants and recipes we’re excited about.

To purchase tickets, visit here

Taste Talks Food & Drink returns to Brooklyn September 12-14, 2014. See the full schedule and buy tickets here.

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