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Who Should Replace Sam Sifton as Times Critic?

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Oh, are we back here again? Just a little over two years ago, the food world speculated who would replace Frank Bruni, the Italian-loving exercise fiend who was stepping down after over five years as Times restaurant critic to promote his book and write about text messaging and Harry Potter (and politics and cocktails!). Now that Sam Sifton is moving on to the national desk at some point in the near future (the people at the Dining Section aren't saying just when), it's time for the rumor mill to churn once again. Who should get the gig? Who even wants it?

Before getting to the entertaining but frivolous act of reader polling from a list of suggested candidates, there are a few items to consider.

Will they try to find someone not easily recognizable? If they want to keep going down the anonymous track, some of the candidates (some silly, some not) put forth by readers are automatically knocked off. Those includes Andrew Knowlton, Jay Raynor, Alan Richman, Eric Asimov, The RG, Jeffrey Tascarella, Gael Greene, and (he's on a popular Cooking Channel show) Francis Lam.

Then there's the Times' ethics policy. The Times prefers to hire writers and especially critics who haven't taken a freebie in the last three years. Which is one reason why they will probably promote (or demote, depending) from within or look to other food writers.

A lot of people don't want the job. This includes Steve Cuozzo (never leaving the Post), Peter Meehan, Jonathan Gold (probably), and (one assumes) Frank Bruni. Many insiders suggest that dining section editor Pete Wells is a shoe-in for the job, and he did drop those goose eggs with glee last year and knows what he's doing. And it would give deputy Nick Fox a chance for a promotion. But Wells, more than anyone, knows this gig isn't what it's cracked up to be and is likely comfortable where he is.

Hey, girl. There hasn't been a female Times critic since Reichl retired in January 1999. Just something to remember.

Here then, are some other names put forward, listed in ascending order of likelihood. Just remember most of these were on the table last time around and they weren't chosen:

· Hamilton Nolan, Gawker scribe
· James Wolcott, Vanity Fair writer
· Dan Saltzstein, food lover and Travel section editor
· Paul Adams, former restaurant critic at the New York Sun
· Alexander Lobrano, frequent contributor to T Style
· S. Irene Virbila, LA Times food critic
· Christine Muhlke, Bon Appetit
· Nina Lalli, food writer
· Robert Sietsema, Voice critic
· Tom Sietsema, Washington Post food critic
· Ryan Sutton, Bloomberg critic
· Betsy Andrews, Times Dining Section writer
· Ligaya Mishan, Times Dining Section writer
· Julia Moskin, Times Dining Section writer
· Oliver Strand, Times Dining Section writer

And now, a vote from Eater's top picks, some more likely than others. Please, as always, add more suggestions and favorites in the comments. Smart money is on Wells and Nick Fox picking some rando from some obscure department at the paper.

Poll results

· BruniBetting: So, Who'll Replace King Brunz? [~ENY~]