Today the Observer gets on the BruniBeat to discuss a) who may be the next Times critic, b) the diminishing power of said Times critic, c) Josh Ozersky, famemonger, and d) the cozy relationships between bloggers and chefs. They also make this patently untrue statement (based on Ozersky's comment that he'd rather be famous than Frank Bruni): "...even with all these food crazies out there, no one seems to be clamoring for Mr. Bruni’s job." Plenty of people would rather have that job than be a judge on Iron Chef, Observer. But let's take the points one by one.
a) The Times' Bill Keller says he should make the critic announcement by the end of the week. NYO is placing its bets on Jennifer Steinhauer, Pete Wells, Julia Moskin, and Christine Muhlke.
b) Keller, Ruth Reichl, William Grimes, and Del Posto's Mark Ladner all agree that the power of the paper of record's head restaurant critic has diminished, that the internet has "balkanized" the conversation, that people no longer take it as "gospel." Undeniably true. The Brunz can't make or break restaurants. But the significance of a Times review should not be underestimated. Restaurateurs care significantly more about how Bruni will rate them than about a glowing review on the Dash 'Bag or from the Amateur Gourmet.
c) Which leads to the third point. The always quotable Josh Ozersky reiterates his desire for fame, a notion that is meant to be (be shouldn't be) representative of a new generation of food bloggers:
The Times critic can’t go on TV!...What would you do with that power? You can’t go to the restaurants you like, you can’t shmooze with the chefs and writers you like. You can’t go on Top Chef! As far as I’m concerned, you have to be on television...
d) Ah, the rising power of the blogger. Sure being chummy with chefs gets blogs stories. And yes, some chefs like having more voices in the conversation, more people they can win over—or as Bourdain puts it, "co-op and coerce and bride and suck up to." But when it comes to actual reviews of the food and the restaurant experience, there is something to be said for an anonymous critic that pays his own way and dines multiple times. That signal shouldn't be lost in the growing noise of the blogosphere.
· Lament for the Old-Fashioned Restaurant Critic [NYO]
· Countdown Bruni: 21 Days Left in King Brunz's Reign [~E~]