Should You Go to Culinary School to Become a Food Critic?
If there’s one career that seems more glamorous and food-centered than becoming an Executive Chef, it’s becoming a food critic. Food critics seem to have the ultimate job: they go around tasting incredible dishes from incredible restaurants and provide their opinions on each one.
And the more famous the food critic, the more prestige that comes with it. In fact, the top food critics are often the recipients of flattery and free stuff – all part of the package as chefs vie for attention and a few gold stars.
Unfortunately, becoming a food critic isn’t as easy as loving food and having decided opinions about it. In fact, culinary school is one of the most common places to find the food critics of tomorrow. That’s because the most important part of being a food critic is simply being able to cook. Of course, there are additional considerations, as well:
Writing and Journalism Skills: Most food critics write up their opinions in regular articles, blogs, or columns. This means being able to report and write interesting reviews, since you can’t be a successful food critic unless others are interested in reading what you have to say.
Knowledge about Food: You also have to have a familiarity with different ingredients and types of cuisines. Food critics have to be able to discern the different flavor profiles in a dish and compare it to others, using their own knowledge base to determine how innovative a new chef is. This is one place where having a culinary education comes in, since food critics with a background in cooking have more familiarity with cuisine.
A Discerning Palate: Food critics also have to be able to make realistic opinions on different dishes. If you’re the type of diner who likes just about anything, you probably won’t make a good food critic. After all, you have to be able to tell the good from the bad and the near-perfect from the perfect. A background in culinary school can go a long way in developing your palate.
Professionalism: The best food critics are also known entities in their field. They network with food editors, restaurant owners, celebrity chefs, reporters, and other culinary professionals. They know how to give a bad review without severing personal ties, and they are charismatic enough to become popular with others in the culinary profession. This takes a high level of professionalism and connections that are often made at top culinary schools around the world.
Becoming a food critic is a dream for many culinary students and gourmands all over the world. While it is a difficult profession to break into, culinary school might be a great place to start. After all, not only are you learning how to eat good food, but you’re learning how to cook it, too. That makes for a well-rounded education with plenty of opportunities in terms of a future culinary career.
Read, Read and Read Some MoreOne of the best suggestions I have for anyone thinking of going to culinary school or just getting into the restaurant industry is to read everything you can get your hands on. Learn from professional chefs who have worked in the industry and those who have taught in culinary schools.
There are many great books available to get you started in your culinary education and I suggest you read as much as possible before making that big decision to make sure this is the right move for you. Below is just a sample of books you might be interested in checking out.
For a much more comprehensive list of books for aspiring culinary, baking and restaurant management students, I suggest checking out my post on books for future culinary students and chefs.