The 'Bag has a copy of a release sent out by Dame Gael Greene, one of the most recognizable figures in the New York food world and a restaurant critic to some capacity at New York Magazine for the past 40 years, about being ousted from her job. According to the release, the magazine gave her the boot six weeks after publishing her final piece in her NYM oeuvre, "The Most Important Restaurants in 40 Years.” Greene has not been the head critic for the magazine for the past eight years, though she writes the occasional column in print and on her blog about the comped meals she has around town. (NB: She's the one who actually liked Delicatessen.) Her blog, which is not owned by the magazine, will continue to live on. Says the veteran critic: "I describe it as cutting off your nose to spite your face."
Gael Greene, the brand name of restaurant journalism for 40 years at New York magazine has been fired by the magazine effective immediately. The magazine gave her one last hurrah with a coverline on “The Most Important Restaiants in 40 Years” in its 40th anniversary issue October 6, 2008, and said goodbye six weeks later.· Gael Greene Ousted at New York Magazine [TFB]
“I describe it as cutting off your nose to spite your face,” Greene said. At her premature “retirement” Greene was no longer the weekly critic, having asked to be replaced in 2000, setting off an 18-month search for a replacement that brought on Adam Platt in January 2002. She remained on the masthead as a contributing editor to write a weekly column called “Insatiable Critic.” She also created a virtual restaurant magazine of her own at www.InsatiableCritic.com
In her role as restaurant critic. Greene helped change the way New Yorkers (and many Americans) think about food. A scholarly anthropologist could trace the evolution of New York restaurants from the early awakening in the 1970's on a time line that would reflect her passions and taste over 30 years from Le Pavillon to nouvelle cuisine to couturier pizzas, pastas and hot fudge sundaes, to more healthful eating
Tapped by the magazine's founder Clay Felker to be the restaurant critic just months after the pioneering city magazine's launch competing against the Times beloved and powerful Craig Claiborne, Greene decided not to rip into any Claiborne favorites like La Caravelle or Le Grenouille. Instead she chose to dissect the brand new Ground Floor in the CBS building on Sixth Avenue. “Paley's Preserve,” appeared November 11, 1968, and she writes, “I found my voice.”
“The Ground Floor is, above all, appropriately grand. It is slick, rich, calculated, spare, intimidating. It is Contemporary Wasp. You would hate to break open a roll for fear it would scatter unprogrammed crumbs. It is understatedly snob,,.The Ground Floor is a perfect room to end an affair in?.”
"Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Ice Cream But Were Too Fat To Ask," "The Mafia Guide to Dining Out." “ The Menu Rap and How to Beat It,” and "Nobody Knows the Truffles I've Seen" were early pieces that inspired foodies before foodie was a word. In later years her annual roundup of New York City's dining favorites, ASK GAEL, was a gourmand's collectible.
As co-founder 27 years ago with James Beard and a continuing force behind Citymeals-on-Wheels as board chair, Ms. Greene continues a commitment to help feed the city's homebound elderly. She devotes as many hours to fund-raising in recent years as she does to writing. Citymeals, the largest public/private partnership in the country, has delivered more than 40 million meals to frail needy neighbors no longer able to shop or cook for themselves. The exceptional commitment of the food and restaurant community to the city's elderly shutins has been an essential factor in the success of this effort from the very first fund-raising weekend 27 years ago.