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Food Critic

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Most people love food, but those who also love writing have the potential to turn their combined passions into a formidable income.

Becoming a food critic isn’t a hugely popular career, which means there’s still plenty of room for those that want to get in on the fun of eating the best food around, then writing about it.

What is a Food Critic?

A food critic is someone that dines at restaurants and other eating establishments tries various offerings or menu items and writes colorful commentary on their experience.

In many cases, they will comment on not only the food and the elements that are combined to make their meal, but also the presentation of the meal, the attention of the staff, and the decor and appearance of the restaurant as a whole.

What is a Food Critic Called?

A food critic is also known as a food writer, restaurant critic, or in some cases, simply a “foodie”.

What Does a Food Critic Do?

A food critic will visit several different dining establishments in a week and will break down their meal experience into the good, bad, and indifferent components.

They will often give detailed examinations of the appearance, presentation, and preparation of each item they order.

They will also give detailed reviews of the restaurant setting, service, and more.

Many food critics will spend significant amounts of time searching out and reporting on new restaurants and finding the most unique cuisine in their area and beyond.

Work Opportunities in the Food Critic Industry

image showing a table of food ready for review by a food critic

Food Critic Job Description

A food critic will use their culinary experience to help them provide detailed reviews of the food they order at local restaurants, food trucks, and other vendors.

In some cases, they may be asked to report on local eateries and dishes exclusively, while in other cases they may travel extensively to try new and exotic cuisine around the world, like Anthony Bourdain.

Top Food Critic Jobs and Careers

  • Local Newspaper Food Critic
  • Major Newspaper Food Critic
  • Freelance Blogger

Where Can a Food Critic Work?

Once you have established yourself as a freelance food critic, there are many places you could obtain regular employment.

A food critic can work with magazines, popular websites, newspapers, and even a food blog or social media.

Current Career Job Openings

If you think you might be interested in the career of a food critic, check out these current job openings in the culinary writing field.

What It’s Like to Be a Food Critic

Is Being a Food Critic Hard?

Being a food critic can be relatively difficult, and this is not only because there are few paid job openings available.

The work itself can be challenging since the food critic will need to appear at local restaurants on a semi-regular basis without being recognized.

Is a Food Critic’s Job Stressful?

Being a food critic is a career with very low-stress levels.

You getting paid to write about eating.

The only potential stress factor is if your employer institutes a deadline by which your writing must be submitted

Common Food Critic Work Day

There is no standard for how a food critic will spend their day.

Much of how they will operate depends on if they are employed by a publisher or if they are a freelancer.

Another significant factor is if they are going to be reviewing breakfast, lunch, or dinner options.

They will generally take notes about the food quality during the meal and will convert those notes to a full article in the time after their meal

Food Critic Tasks & Duties

There is no formal set of tasks and duties that a food critic is designated.

In most situations, they will be only responsible for submitting their writing by the deadline their employer determines.

Food Critic Work Hours & Schedule

Food critics have a schedule that they largely determine themselves.

In many cases, they will tour the restaurants they intend to review during the evenings while writing about their experience afterward that evening or the day after.

Food Critic Dress Code

There is no dress code for food critics, largely because they need to keep their appearance low-key.

If they wear anything recognizable the restaurant may notice that it’s them, which can compromise their objectivity.

Does This Career Field Embrace Work/Life Balance?

Many food critics enjoy a very healthy work/life balance.

This is because not only do they often only work during specific times each day but because they are frequently in freelance positions.

This allows them to do the writing portion of their work when it best suits them.

Food Critic Salary & Income

Some food critics make very good money. Some that are just starting may not make any income.

How Much Do Food Critics Make?

The median income for food critics and similar writers is about $69,510 per year according to the BLS.

Overview of the Food Critic Industry

image showing a food critic with a glass of wine in his hand reviewing a wine glass

Food Critic Field: Career Progression

If you want to become a food critic, you can start reviewing food at any time on your own.

You do not need any previous industry experience to self-publish writing.

Is a Food Critic a Good Career?

A food critic is a great career, and food critics generally love what they do.

Food Critic Job Outlook

Food critics are grouped with writers and authors in the Bureau of Labor Statistics and show a growth rate of just 11% between 2020 and 2030.

Demand for Food Critics

The demand for food critics will be limited to just a few thousand openings each year, as they will take a share of the estimated 15,400 annual openings for all writers and authors.

Food Critic Facts

  • Some food critics will visit 10+ different restaurants in a single day
  • Many food critics will not write a negative review
  • Negative reviews can put a restaurant out of business
  • Good reviews can put a new establishment on the map
  • Food critics go to great lengths to make sure they are not recognized
  • Being a food critic can take significant research

Jobs Related to Food Critic

There are many jobs related to being a food critic.

Many are food-related, but some also review other areas aside from food.

Newspaper Food Critic

A newspaper food critic will review local restaurants within the newspaper’s distribution range, and publish the food reviews in the paper.

This can be an incredibly tough job to get since many in the position have been there for years.

Restaurant Reviewer

Reviewing restaurants independently can lead to significant exposure as a food critic, and can help the writer get a start on it as a career.

They can often use their freelance experience to get into an opening with a magazine or newspaper.

Food Blogger

Becoming a food blogger is one of the most open-ended careers for an aspiring food critic.

Not only do they have the freedom to review anything they want, from restaurants to food trucks to caterers, but they also have no restrictions on their content.

They can publish scathing reviews of food service or sing the praises of a particular venue.

Other related jobs include:

Requirements, Skills, and Education Required for Food Critics

image showing a food critic talking to a waitress serving her food

Who Should Consider a Food Critic Career Path?

People with a passion for food as well as for writing, and who can deal with potential deadlines, are great candidates for a career as a food critic.

Who Should NOT Consider a Food Critic Career Path?

Those with poor language skills or who cannot manage their time well are not suited to a career as a food critic.

Is it Hard to Become a Food Critic?

It is relatively difficult to become a food critic, not only because there are limited paid positions, but because it can take significant time to break into the industry overall.

What Do I Need to Become a Food Critic?

To have the best chance at becoming a food critic, you’ll first need to get a degree in language skills.

Common degrees sought by those entering the field are communications, journalism, and creative writing.

Requirements for Becoming a Food Critic

To become a food critic you’ll need excellent writing and communication skills.

You’ll also need extensive knowledge of food and food preparation.

You will need a significant degree of objectivity, and you will need to be able to stay relatively anonymous.

What Skills Does a Food Critic Need?

The skills a food critic needs include having a broad palate, being able to manage time well, having skills in creative writing and persuasion, and understanding what their readers want to read regarding food and service appraisals.

What Education Does a Food Critic Need?

The bare minimum is that they have graduated from high school, though most major publishers want their applicants to have a 4-year degree.

Can You Become a Food Critic Without a Degree?

You can, though it will be significantly more difficult to get a paid position with a publisher, and will be better suited to blogging.

What Experience Does a Food Critic Need?

Most major publishers will look for existing food critic experience in the form of published works.

These can be blog posts with significant traffic or reviews published in a newspaper or magazine.

Food Critic Education & Schooling

image showing a food critic speaking with restaurant staff about a meal she is eating

Food Critic Education & Schooling

The only requirement that most major publishers will have for education is that the food critic has a degree that enhances their writing and communication skills.

Steps to Become a Food Critic

There are four basic steps to becoming a food critic.

First, you’ll need to get an education that enhances your writing.

A high school diploma or GED is the bare minimum, but a bachelor’s in communications, journalism, or creative writing could put you ahead of the competition.

The next step is to make sure you do enough research.

You’ll need to be familiar with cooking terms, practices, and kitchen operations.

You’ll also need a basic knowledge of the restaurant industry overall.

Research different cuisines, spices, techniques, and more. Get familiar with some of the best food critics.

Then you’ll want to get some experience on the job.

You probably won’t get hired right away, so you can use that time to get writing internships and other entry-level work.

It never hurts to ask an existing food critic if they are looking to mentor someone, or even offer some advice.

Start freelancing and get your work out there.

Starting a foodie blog or review site is a great start.

Make sure that even in your early days you keep a low profile, otherwise you may lose the objectivity of your reviews when staff starts recognizing you.

Frequently Asked Questions

image showing a food critic opeining a jar of jam for a cheese board she is eating at a table

Who is the most famous food critic?

Some of the most famous food critics include Jonathan Gold, who writes for the Los Angeles Times, Tom Sietsema of the Washington Post, and Brett Anderson of the Times-Picayune.

How are food critics paid?

Food critics that work for an employer are paid just like any other employee.

Food critics that run blogs, however, are generally paid from ad revenue once they monetize their sites.

Wrapping Up

If you have a love of food and a knack for persuasive writing, becoming a food critic might be a career that is right up your alley.

You’ll need to gain some experience freelancing first, but once you’re able to sell your work, there is the potential to make a significant income.

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