January 2nd, 2011
07:45 PM ET
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Atlanta Journal-Constitution chief dining critic and Eatocracy pal John Kessler talks about the unauthorized outing of Los Angeles Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila by the owners of Red Medicine, the role of reviewers and why five-star restaurants are where you "can drink unicorn blood from a silver goblet."

Have we mentioned we love this man?

Previously – Poll: Are professional restaurant critics necessary? and A critical outing

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Filed under: Critics • Restaurant News


soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Jen

    Once again, the feature is not presented anywhere in text for the hearing impaired foodies. What a shame.

    January 18, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Reply
    • Nina

      I know, seriously. There are FAR too many stories on CNN with this issue in general...

      January 19, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Reply
  2. Becky

    Shawn, No need to insult everyone in Atlanta, the restaurants, the food critic and the newspaper. If you don't like it here, you're free to move somewhere else. I'm not from the south but I live here now and there are plenty of good things about this area. There is plenty of taste, class, and hospitality here – something your comment lacks. Maybe you should move away or at least stay home, cook your own food, and spare us your nastiness.

    January 17, 2011 at 11:04 am | Reply
  3. Wonkerine

    Nice guy,fairly informative but how many times did he say ..."...you know"? Also,if ithe resturaunt had not officially opened,it could not be officially reviewed so tossing out the critic was seemingly an act of revenge for a bad review in the past. If it was me,and I had condidence in my product,i would have bumped her to the from and wowed her. Seems like the chef was running scared.

    January 16, 2011 at 11:37 am | Reply
  4. Bartender

    Good for them. The same critic took down a 4 star restaurant I had been working in. She criticized everything down to the wine she picked herself. In a town where image is everything that emptied the restaurant as everyone canceled their reservations.

    Maybe chefs are tired of the power she has to destroy their lives on a whim.

    January 14, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Reply
  5. vapor

    i will slay all trolls

    January 14, 2011 at 1:08 am | Reply
  6. Adrian Novato

    After watching the video a second time, I honestly do not see an issue with what the restaurant did. There is no such thing as an unbiased critic, and I imagine a review could be affected my something completely unrelated to the restaurant experience, whether it be a subconscious problem or something during the daily runnings.

    A bad review can do real damage, and I've seen them thrown around so flippantly. What is even more confounding is when you read a poor review, decide to make a decision on your own, and have a completely opposite experience. It sometimes leaves you at the point of wondering if you even went to the correct restaurant.

    January 11, 2011 at 5:45 am | Reply
  7. Marion

    This is twinkie fluff reporting. Thanks again CNN.

    January 9, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Reply
  8. kevnyc

    nothing beats taco bell. now that's good eating!!

    January 5, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Reply
  9. Mild Bill

    A critic is as useful as one who takes the thermometer out of your rectum, puts it in his mouth, then tells you if you have a fever or how high your fever is.

    I like this one better than my first post.

    January 4, 2011 at 5:19 am | Reply
  10. Mild Bill

    A critic is as useful as one who takes the thermometer out of your mouth, puts it in his rectum then tells you if you have a fever or how high your fever is.

    January 4, 2011 at 5:18 am | Reply
  11. Blessed Geek

    Critics believe in what they eat. Whereas most of us eat what we believe.
    Critics throw out whatever they don't believe in and refuse to accept them as legitimate food.

    January 3, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Reply
  12. Crazy Waiter

    I have no problem with this. No law saying a critic must be served. Probably not the best thing for business.

    January 3, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Reply
  13. Anon_e_mouse

    When I was in college – more years ago than I care to admit at this point – I had the opportunity to fill in for a local restaurant reviewer who needed to take a few weeks off following a medical emergency. I grew up appreciating fine food – the kind they served on first-class trains and in classic (not necessarily trendy) restaurants – but also with a good appreciation for down-home, family-style cuisine, but I was selected as much for my writing abilities as for my knowledge of food. It was an interesting experience; I visited each restaurant at least twice, usually three times, with different people (ranging from whatever young lady I was dating that week to my parents and grandparents) so that we could get a sampling of a number of dishes. My name was never published (the regular reviewer used a pseudonym and I was simply published under that same name) and, to the best of my knowledge, I was never suspected of being a "critic", even after writing one scathing review and a couple of other less-than-complimentary ones (out of about 15 I wrote during the regular reviewer's absence). Yes, reviewers will have their personal likes and dislikes, but they need to maintain their objectivity as much as possible; if I were to write a review of a broccoli dish, for instance, I might well state that I didn't particularly care for it, but I would also note that I never have liked broccoli, and I would not include my opinion of that dish in my overall evaluation of the restaurant. (On the other hand, if I DID like it, it would be a featured part of the review, because it would have been a pleasant surprise.)

    It was an interesting experience, but I wouldn't want to do it for a living.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Reply
  14. Fiona

    When they work ethically and with open minds, professional reviewers provide a good service for customers, and help to keep restaurants working up to speed. They establish a kind of local standard, or "bar," and it sounds as if Kessler works this way. But when a critic gets caught up in his or her power, is vindictive or overtly snobbish (as one of the longtime NYTimes critics was...won't say who), professional critics are harmful for business. Ditto for some of the hack critics who work for small, regional papers (like the one for my community). They are not only known to the staff of all local eateries, they often announce their visits ahead of time, and accept free food. They can be harmless business boosters...or business-killing enemies.

    January 3, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Reply
  15. Baffled

    Excellent choice of a commentator on the story given he has no clue what actually happened...idiots.

    January 3, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Reply
  16. Shaun

    I heard he gave Pizza Hut rave reviews.

    January 3, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Reply
  17. Epicurious

    I happen to live in Atlanta and read all of John Kessler's reviews. 99% of the time he is spot on and he certainly isn't a "bully". Keep your inane comments to yourself or get educated, Patricia Lumaava. Perhaps people don't like you, either.

    January 3, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Reply
    • Jim

      Epicurious = John Kessler

      January 3, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Reply
      • SHAWN

        I happen to live in Atlanta and read all of John Kessler's reviews. 99% of the time he DOESN'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT FOOD.

        Fits right right in though because 'folks' down here don't have any taste. Additionally the Atlanta-Journal is probably one of the worst papers in America...I guess no competition will do that.

        January 5, 2011 at 10:39 pm | Reply
  18. EuphoricCrest

    Reading any critic's review tells you more about the critic than what is being reviewed.

    January 3, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Reply
  19. patricia lumaava

    I don't like critics of any kind. FOod critics are nothing more than bullies.

    January 3, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Reply
  20. Sy2502

    Food critics are like movie critics. Take them with a grain of salt.

    January 3, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Reply

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