Name: Pete Wells
Hails From: Rhode Island
Currently Resides in: Brooklyn
Potential Eater Nicknames: Sneaky Pete, Pistol Pete, Wells Fargo Wagon, Pete Wellington
Previous Posts: New York Times Dining Section Editor, 2006 - 2011
Articles editor for Details from 2001 - 2006
Wrote "Always Eating" column for Food & Wine where he was also a full time editor from 1999 - 2001
Tenure at the Times: Five years
Likes: Great cocktails, service with a smile, good value (at both cheap and expensive restaurants).
Dislikes: Poorly executed concepts, pompous and/or plain terrible service, scattershot food presentation, overly sweet desserts, stupid amuse bouches.
Some Great Zingers:
"the problem with Gus & Gabriel is not that it aims low. The problem is that it fails to achieve even its low aims."
"...almost every chef in town is experimenting with techniques for building a better burger. Mr. Psilakis may be the only one to have perfected a new technology that magically strips out all the taste."
"Of everything Hotel Griffou offers, the drinks are the easiest things to swallow. They helped buff the rough edges of the food that followed."
Awesome Joke: From a recent interview: "We're going out tonight and leaving the kids with a sitter, so they can eat furniture varnish for all I care. (I joke. There will be something fresh and delicious, made by my wife before she goes out.)"
How he got the job: He was already a shoe-in, but according to the internal memo today, "Pete wrote a thoughtful memo about how our critics have operated since 1963, when Craig Claiborne established a regular review column and codified the standards that set the Times apart from other publications. He has provocative and exciting notions about how to move our coverage into the 21st century."
Writing Style: Straightforward, intelligent, often dry, does not love metaphors, flowery writing.
Wells and Stars: Wells is tight with the stars. In what can be interpreted as a Grimesian flair, he seems to believe (unlike many chefs) that one star is actually a good thing, and that two stars is a fantastic thing. His onespot for The Standard Grill was actually mostly positive. Also he has noted this of critics and the star system:
That means we want a critic with integrity, somebody who's incorruptible. But it also means somebody who can be honest with himself, who can write his own opinions rather than writing what he thinks is expected. We want a critic who calls 'em as he sees 'em (I really am going to send the sports metaphors to the showers after this). If everybody else in town thinks a restaurant's terrific and the critic doesn't, he's got to say that. And that applies to the stars just as much as to the way a review is written. The star system, being numerical, might give the illusion that there are objective mathematical guidelines — add up the scores for decor, service and food and get the total number of stars — but the stars are ultimately subjective, and the star system simply can't work any other way.
Some Other Notable Wells Pieces:
· Wells' Thoughts on Food Blogs [F&W]
· Cooking with Dexter Series [NYT Mag]
· Bivalve Partisan [NYT Mag]
· A Guide to Summer Bartending [NYT]
· Profile on Dave Arnold [F&W]
Have something to add? The tipline is always open.