How many of us have seen the movie “Ratatouille” and wanted to be the petrifying, intimidating, terror-striking, that sending into a cold sweat and making someone shake in their shoes person, Anton Ego, the top French restaurant critic ,who was lucky enough to gorge on the glorious, legendary and mouth watering ratatouille ? Haven’t we all, now! Pursuing a career as a food critic is a fantastic dream for people who are amused by anything edible, and love wallowing in it. The world is seeing an increase in the number of people who are very particular about what goes into their tummy, and hence the birth and emergence of food critics and connoisseurs, across nations, can be observed.
So what’s the first step towards becoming a Food Critic?
Becoming and being a food critic isn’t as easy, facile and plain sailing as people assume and perceive it to be. It requires diligence, multitasking, being a master of a myriad of trades, but is also equally rewarding and satisfactory. Aspirants need to be equipped and experienced both in the field of journalism and culinary arts. A degree in Journalism or English plays a key role. If not, interning with magazines, newspapers and writing for tabloids can help too. Educating oneself with the working of a restaurant, knowing the nook and cranny of the culinary business is mandatory.
Okay, so what next?
Learn to live to eat. Explore the world of food, get adventurous, enjoy taking risks, visit various restaurants and decide what you like the best on your plate, and where and how you like to have it. Just this won’t do. To be a good food critic, one has to be a very good cook. Read cookbooks by various well known cooks, chefs and food lovers. Knowing what goes into the making a dish is very important. Learn to distinguish and tell the difference between a doughnut and a bagel, a mousse and soufflé, the various varieties of cheese, so on and so forth. Travel to food festivals; enlighten yourself with the culinary history and culture of various regions of your country, if not the world. Educate yourself with several languages from around the world. In short, think, sleep and eat food!
Okay, so it isn’t just about eating and writing then? Phew! What more do I need to do?
Research, on a copious number of food critics. Stalk them on the internet, and see what they’re up to in their field. Approach various food experts and develop more in the arena. There are a number of websites like www.dine.com that help you better your flair for writing reviews ,on eateries and restaurants. Exploit such valuable resources in hand, and beautify your knowledge.
Also, try a rehearsal. Go to a restaurant you’d like to review, place orders, and when the food arrives, have small quantities of each of them, and pay attention to what your brain tells you. Take your time and have your food unhurriedly. Remember every aspect of the dish, but do not make the mistake of taking down notes right there. The community of food critics believes in maintaining anonymity, and the connoisseurs do not like giving away their identity in the public. So wait to get back home, and pen down your review. Keep doing this every week, and make sure you invent at least an article per week, to have a collection of articles that can later come in handy.
Once you’ve gotten a hold of the art and know how things work, create a portfolio for yourself. Create a blog, have enough contents to show to the editors, apply for newspapers, magazines, and submit your articles. Make sure you maintain your anonymity all through this journey. Book tables and make reservations in hotels, under fake names, maintain a low profile.
The earnings and salary of a food critic is directly proportional to the magazines, newspapers and tabloids the person writes for, and is dependent on his/her status and position there. Freelance writers may or may not be salaried. The money they earn depends on the number of articles of theirs that is sold.
Patience, resilience and perseverance are the key words to becoming a successful Food critic. As George Bernard Shaw tells in his play, Man and Superman, “There is no love sincerer than the love of food.”, harnessing that love and working on it, can only mean happiness and contentment. Good luck with living to eat, and Bon Appétit!