Does being a restaurant critic require any special training?

Adam Platt defends Frank Bruni.
  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Question: Does being a restaurant critic require any special training?

Adam Platt: I think basically that’s what it requires and it requires-- I think you have to be able to sit in a restaurant for a long time but you have to be able to- you have to enjoy it first of all. You have to enjoy at least eating and eating all sorts of strange foods ‘cause if you don’t you won’t communicate any of that in your writing. And what you’re doing when you’re a critic-- You’re judging these restaurants ostensibly but you’re really communicating the experience and whether good or bad and so if you’re bored all the time or feeling dyspeptic all the time or just if you don’t like food you’re not going to last very long and you’re probably not going to be that fun to read either.

Question: What do you make of people who criticize Frank Bruni for his lack of food training?

Adam Platt: Well, I'm- I think Frank Bruni's a great critic and I don't- I think we're writers first of all and like I said our job is to communicate sort of what's happening because most of the people who read our reviews don't go to these restaurants. They sort of get a vicarious pleasure from reading them. So I think first of all you have to be able to write. I think it's a great- it helps a lot to know a lot about food when you're writing about restaurants. What I try to do is I try to write from the perspective of the diner, and I've eaten in a lot of restaurants so I know what it's like- I can get a fairly good idea as to what's good, what's bad, and that comes with experience eating at restaurants. It doesn't necessarily come from knowing how to cook a mille-feuille or some insane French pastry but-and I'll say that when you look at the landscape of food writers there are sort of two kinds of writers. There are the more food-oriented, more incremental writers who look at what's on the plate and explain to you the recipes and analyze things very minutely and then there are the more eclectic, experimental writers--R.W. Apple was a classic example of that at the time--who like I say communicate the experience and wander around with their expanding bellies and generally have a good time and that's sort of what I try to do.

 

Recorded: 4/22/08