The Best Job in the World: Restaurant Critic

For three years now I’ve had the best job in the world.

It’s only part-time and the pay is minimal, but the job allows me to have some fun while I make a little cash. Add meeting new people, learning new things, attending exciting events, eating for free and doing something I totally love and one couldn’t ask for anything more.

I am a restaurant reviewer for a local publication. I use the word reviewer lightly because I do more than just tell what the food was, I also get to critique the whole experience. So I like to think of myself as a restaurant critic, not just a reviewer.

I’ve had many amazing meals and quite a few funky ones. I’ve been thanked, praised and cursed. There are always surprises.

One of the perks is getting invited to foodie events in town.

Last night, for example, I attended an opening for an not-yet-opened upscale Mexican place. I took my husband as my guest and from the moment we entered we were made to feel welcome and special.

The food is based in traditional Mexican fare but there is a definite modern influence; such as using braised short ribs in the beef recipes or a full menu of wildly inventive margaritas.

The decor is casual and modern – a little wood, a little metal all wrapped up in blues and browns – but the highlight of the place is the huge patio that overlooks the city. The patio is reminescent of verandas found in the old rancheros in Mexico.

I think the place will be a big hit.

And I never would’ve attended such a bash if it weren’t for this little writing job.

Thank you oh gods of food writers for giving me the opportunity to do something I love!

Comments

  1. Betty Crocked

    Rita,
    A restaurant critic might be a good thing.
    My husband is a critic period. He critiques my housekeeping. He critiques how I make coffee. He critiques me in the bedroom.
    I hope you’re more positive than my husband.
    Betty C.

    P.S. Can you share your worst experience?

  2. Rita Connelly

    The worst experience you ask?

    I can’t think of one “worst” experience, but there were several memorable ones.

    Like the time at a teppanyaki joint when my dining companion was nearly knocked out cold by a flying blunt instrument.

    And then there was the time – a girls’ night out of sorts – when we ordered yamakake. It sounded interesting; a grated wild yam with cubes of tuna mixed in. The menu failed to mention the raw egg. A total turnoff; too….gooey.

    Once, the restaurant closed before I could make a second visit!

    As far as reactions from readers. Once after a “bad ” review of a local Western restaurant, there was a spate of e-mail telling me I had no business writing reviews. They questioned my integrety and told me I should get a job shoveling horse manure. That all the letters were from the seven owners says a lot.

    It’s weird though, whenever anyone pans a review, their response is pretty low life. Who knows?

    If I think of any more, I’ll pass them on.

  3. Sammie Cooper

    Rita
    What qualifications do you need to be a restaurant critic? I like to cook. I watch the food channel. I have a cookbook collection. People tell me I’m a great cook. I would love to have a job like that. How can I get started?
    Sammie

  4. Rita Connelly

    Sammie,

    First, let me say I didn’t start out to be a restuarant reviewer, but I always wanted to be a writer. And after a lot of hard work and a pile of rejections finally got several things published, including a guide book to Tucson.

    I got my job because there was an opening for the position. It was advertised and we were asked to send a sample review, which I did along with some copies of my work.

    I had a pretty extensive knowledge of food, not just from cooking, but through dining, travel, reading and studying as well. But I think it was the writing skills that got me the job.

    So I guess the best way to get started is to write. Do some homework about the writing life; it isn’t easy getting published. Take some writing classes. And then write and write somemore. And try and learn as much as you can about food any way you can.

    Good luck,

    Rita

  5. shannon soans

    HI!!!!

    i am only 13 years old and i want to be a food
    critic!!!!!!!
    but i just want to know what qualification do i need
    to be a food cirtic?????
    which is the best place to start and head on my journey????
    and what is the salary?

  6. rita connelly

    Shannon
    First thing you should do is write:.in a journal, for your school newspaper, letters.

    Then read, especially about food. There are so many great food books today.

    Then eat. By this I mean learn to.be an adventurous eater.

    Then be patient and ready to.get rejected

    Then write write write

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