Sam Sifton, The New York Times’ chief restaurant critic, will be speaking on campus about “Restaurant Criticism, Arts Reporting and the Business of The New York Times” Monday at 7pm in Gannett thanks to the Speakers Bureau.
Sifton took over as the NYTs chief restaurant critic after Frank Bruni’s retirement in October 2009 and has brought a dramatic flair to the paper’s Dining Section and Diner’s Journal blog since.
I think restaurant reviewing is incredibly interesting. To avoid any preferential treatment, reviewers have to be faceless (photos of Sifton aren’t exactly hard to find but his photo is deliberately unavailable on the Time’s website), inconspicuous but incredibly astute and informed customers. The whole process—the anonymity, the variety, returning several times to try different dishes and re-experience the restaurant—all reminds me of being some sort of culinary spy. Or whatever.
Sifton’s reviews are always enjoyable reads littered with musical references and minute details and his variety of restaurants, not only in style of food but in neighborhood and price and experience, makes a considerable effort to capture the diversity of New York City while his almost ethnographic descriptions of the dishes and space help to capture the somewhat incommunicable experience of eating out.
Sifton has previously served as the NYTs Culture Editor and was the founding editor of the now extinct Talk magazine. He successfully navigates and thrives in a field of criticism entirely redefined by blogs and Yelp.com and the off the cuff reviews made possible by Twitter and he is incredibly smart and interesting. You should probably come to this talk.