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How Does a Food Critic Critique Food?
It is often said that we eat with our eyes first, and that certainly holds true when it comes to critiquing food. The presentation of a dish is the first thing a food critic notices, and it plays a major part in the review process. The variety of colors, textures and placement of food all add to the experience, and a food critic pays close attention to how each is represented. From the color of the plate to the geometry of the garnishes, nothing goes unnoticed. It's also an opportunity for the chef to impress the food critic with his/her artistic ability and vision. It might not be wise to judge a book by its cover, but you can count on a food critic judging a dish by its overall presentation.
Technique & Creativity
Another important component to the review process is technique. The chef will be judged on how he/she chooses to cook the food, and it can often make or break a dish. He might ask himself: Was the steak too rare or too done? Was the dressing dispersed well throughout the salad? Was the skin of the chicken crispy or soggy? There are numerous factors the food critic evalutes--technique is one and creativity is another. He will decide if the chef creates something truly unique or blend unlikely flavors together to form a new and inspiring dish. Being able to pleasantly surprise a food critic is a difficult but rewarding feat, and new twists on old favorites are always noticed in reviews.
The most important aspect of the whole process is taste. The dishes have to taste good, and that involves identifying what spices and seasonings are present, the texture and consistency of each ingredient, and the overall combination of flavors present throughout the dish. The food critic will think about how each ingredient enhances or detracts from another, and will also take note of the freshness and quality of the food served. In the end, it's the combination of presentation, cooking technique and creativity, and overall taste that determines whether a review will be positive or negative.
I'm an editor and writer currently based in New York with expertise in environmental, lifestyle and travel content.