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Career as a Food Critic

Who is a Food Critic?

A food critic is someone who takes great pleasure in tasting and analysing a wide variety of food, and also loves to share their experience with the public by writing about it. Food critics will write reviews for newspapers, magazines, travel guides, and food-related websites, and comment on the restaurant's service, presentation, and atmosphere. They sometimes also provide comparisons, opinions and discussions of similar dishes at other establishments.

After analysing their dining experience, a food critic will give the establishment a rating which can then be used to help the public decide whether to eat there or not.

What does a Food Critic do?

A food critic is a writer (many are journalists) who specializes in the areas of food and drink. He or she encapsulates the dining experience and relays that experience to readers, viewers or listeners. This may include descriptions of the food, whether it tastes good, the serving size, the ambiance of the restaurant, the price, and how well the service staff do their job. The food critic must have knowledge appropriate to the industry, and must be able to capture all the important facts in a written format that is both engaging and informative.

Food critics almost never show their faces when they write restaurant reviews so as to minimize the possibility that restaurant owners will recognize them and give them special treatment. That means keeping all social media profiles photo-free and restricting public appearances as well. Reservations should be made in a name other than that of the critic and meals should be paid for using cash or a credit card that is not in the critic's name. The ultimate goal of restaurant criticism is to experience the restaurant just as an ordinary patron would do without any special attention.

Importance of Food Critics

There are so many mainstream career options an individual might not relate to or may grow weary and bored with what they have to offer. The intent here of the above statement is not to undervalue any profession but rather to emphasize the artistic capabilities of an individual which make them seek out offbeat job profiles.

In the case of a future food critic, there is always an undying love for food. One can often find these individuals indulging in the art of cooking and tasting what others have made while engaging in the world of culinary arts and so on.

One can very easily turn their passion for food into a stable everyday job. The extensive options and elements of the job include exploring, researching, travelling and building a network of connections. A food critic is all you should be if you find yourself delving in the intricacy and detailing of food.

Pros and Cons of being a Food Critic

  • Opinions of friends

  • Establishing and risking credibility

  • Positive and Negative readership

  • Exciting job or the daily grind

  • Personal challenges and expense


- Consistently evaluate restaurant standards and food quality.

- Supply original written copy to newspapers, magazines, travel guides and websites.

- Maintain time management skills.

- Meet publishing deadlines.

- Occasionally supply original photography, or secure usage of restaurant's photos.

- Competently interview industry leaders and venue representatives

- Deliver a written summary in a clear and unbiased way.

Knowledge areas and skills that need to be acquired

- Understand reader expectations for food quality appraisal and service standards.

- Have an appreciation for creative writing, and a gift for words.

- Have a broad and sensitive palate.

- Be able to travel, sometimes over a considerable distance.

- Manage time constraints and multiple projects simultaneously.


Food critics have distinct personalities. They tend to be artistic individuals, which means they’re creative, intuitive, sensitive, articulate, and expressive. They are unstructured, original, nonconforming, and innovative. Some of them are also enterprising, meaning they’re adventurous, ambitious, assertive, extroverted, energetic, enthusiastic, confident, and optimistic.

Work Experience for Food Critic

Food critics can build a portfolio of relevant work experience while honing their reviewing skills at a newspaper, magazine, or an online publication. Writers or reporters might be able to advance to a food critic position by gaining experience with an employer and producing a collection of original reviews.

Candidates also can work as freelance food critics and writers. Interning under a food editor, chef or at a restaurant too, his highly

advised. Prospective critics should be familiar with the preparation, arrangement, and serving of restaurant dishes, so working in a restaurant can add to their credentials. They also might make it a point to travel and taste foreign dishes to widen their culinary perspective.

Being a pro at many different related skills will help one get noticed and eventually hired. For instance, along, being a great photographer and videographer with impeccable writing and communication skills topped with a camera-friendly personality and demeanour with the right education and prior experience in the mix will get you ahead.

Hence being an expert of gastronomy alone is no more advisable or viable in today's day and age. Additional complimentary skills and work experience is the way to go ahead.

Career Overviewand Education

Food critics have distinct personalities. They tend to be artistic individuals, which means they’re creative, intuitive, sensitive, articulate, and expressive. They are unstructured, original, nonconforming, and innovative. Some of them are also enterprising, meaning they’re adventurous, ambitious, assertive, extroverted, energetic, enthusiastic, confident, and optimistic.

The majority of food critics work freelance, supplying content to various newspapers, magazines, and food-related websites. However, larger lifestyle publications will employ food critics to cover this subject matter in an ongoing way.

While food critics certainly enjoy their share of fine dining at white tablecloth establishments, they also may find themselves chowing down at mom-and-pop family diners and even balancing their food while standing in front of a food truck.

Despite the travelling and continual need to sample restaurants spread over a city or even larger geographical area; a majority of the food critic's work takes place at home. Some reviews or events can mean several days away from home too, so this can have an impact upon family life, should this be a consideration.

Prospective Food Critics require deep knowledge of two different basic elements that can be acquired by two different modes. One is good writing and editing skills and the other is professional knowledge of the food industry.

Although no formal qualification is required in any of the fields to become a food critic but to excel in this field, to have an edge our competitors and be efficient formal knowledge in one or other or both the field can prove beneficial in the long run.

The best way to acquire professional writing skills is to join a Diploma or Degree course in Journalism (provided by various institutions like Indian Institute of Mass Communication and universities like Panjab university or Kurukshetra university) as most of the food writers/ critics are supposed to write for some kind of mass media.

Educational Qualification for BMC

Minimum education to require a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism or Mass Communication is 10+2 class pass or equivalent.

Eligible candidates can take entrance test conducted by various institutes and universities to get admission in the bachelor in the mass communication course. However, some institutes provide admission on the basis of percentage of marks obtained in the qualifying examination.

For having in-depth professional knowledge about the food industry, the aspiring candidates can look for hotel management degree/ diploma or attend culinary courses.

Educational Qualification for Hotel Management course

Basic minimum qualification to apply for hotel management degree/diploma course is 10+2 class pass (with 60% marks for some reputed institutes) or equivalent.

Eligible candidates have to take entrance test conducted by various institutes like Indian Institute of Hotel Management (IIHM) to get admission in the bachelor’s degree course. However, some institutes provide admission on the basis of percentage of marks obtained in the qualifying examination.

Food Critic Job Description

Food critic’s job includes giving critical but unbiased opinions on various kinds of food/cuisine as well as on a particular restaurant, cafe, food court, food manufacturer or another food outlet. They visit these places, taste different types of food served and other factors that can influence the enjoyment of food, analyse them in an unbiased manner and then make their views public by publishing in any of the available mass media instruments be it print, electronic or Internet media.

Food Critic Career Prospects

Spurt growth in the tourism and hospitality industry and opening up of chains of world-class food courts and restaurants has created a huge demand for food critics in virtually all kinds of mass media industries. Good food critics can get job opportunities in print media such daily newspapers, weekly newspapers, food magazines, regional guidebooks, trade publications as well as electronic mass media like radio, TV stations and the Internet. Writing one’s own cookbook or publication of newsletter can be another good option for Food critics.

Other related job options are:

1. Food Editor

2. Freelance Food Writer

3. Restaurant Reviewer

4. Staff food Writer

5. Syndicated Food Columnist

Food Critic Salary

Salary of a Food Critic entirely depends upon one ability and credibility among the masses. Good food critic with incredible skills can demand according to their own wish. However, to start with a well-educated food critic can expect an average salary in the range of Rs.12,000 to Rs.18,000 working with a reputed newspaper or another kind of mass media.

Top Food Critics in India

1. Roxanne Bomboat

2. Himanshu Sehgal

3. Swayampurna Mishra

4. Shivesh Bhatia

5. Kalyan Karmakar

6. Ronak Rajani

Colleges offering courses related to the career:

1. Indian Institute of Mass Communication (New Delhi)

2. Mass Communication Research Centre (New Delhi)

3. The Asian College of Journalism (Chennai)

4. Times School of Journalism (New Delhi)

5. Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology (Thanjavur- TN)

6. MIT College of Food Technology (Maharashtra)

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Food Critics happy?

There is a degree of awe associated with this career. Many people assume that food critics eat out for free every night, can take a guest with them to every assignment, and that everything they consume is delicious. Of course, this is not the case. The new and exciting restaurants are not always the best ones, and the food is not always inspiring. The job is certainly interesting and stimulating, but it is not without its drawbacks. For most of us, eating out is downtime, off-the-clock time. This is exactly the opposite for food critics and there are instances when the job becomes tedious and boring; even unpleasant.

One of the greatest intangible benefits of the profession is helping diners discover restaurants that they might not have otherwise considered or known about. Most food critics find great satisfaction in this. Providing comprehensive and balanced reviews and maintaining credibility are crucial to their professional happiness.

Building a loyal audience is vital for a food critic. Many critics enjoy receiving positive letters, e-mails, or online comments in response to their reviews. However, such engagement can also be negative. In rare instances, feedback can be mean-spirited and spark fear in the heart of an unsuspecting food critic.

This occupation may present some potential personal challenges. Food critics sometimes have to eat and drink more than they would like, or partake of foods and drinks that are not particularly healthful. Without a strict exercise regimen, this can lead to weight gain and poor health. In addition, if the critic is a freelancer or is not working for a well-established outlet, out-of-pocket expenses can add up.

Those who envy food critics may misunderstand the nature of the job. Simply stated, a food critic is not paid to enjoy luxurious cuisine, but to compose descriptive, informative reviews. And as is the case with all occupations, there are pros and cons to the career.

Should I become a Food Critic?

Fussy eaters need not apply. But that is not the only caveat. Before committing to this career, aspiring food critics should ask themselves if they fulfil some basic requirements of the profession:

Enthusiasm for food and the culinary arts A love of food; an appetite for adventurous eating; and an interest in food presentation and service experience are essential to becoming a successful food critic.

Superior analytical and sensory evaluation skills Of course, an ability to distinguish between tastes, textures, and flavours is essential for food critics. This may mean noticing something as simple as a delicate hint of lemon in a pasta dish or discerning the distinct qualities of a burger in its crispy lettuce and perfectly grilled beef on a soft brioche bun.

Capacity to remain objective Food critics must never lose sight of the fact that their objectivity is the foundation of their career. The reading and listening public look for and expects honest and unbiased reviews and information.

Awareness of restaurant and food quality standards Without an understanding and appreciation for standards at all industry levels, a food critic will be unable to build trust among readers and/or listeners.

Expressive writing style This is a competitive occupation in which both print and broadcast media demand engaging and entertaining material from the food critics they hire.

Flexibility in terms of working hours and location This is not the occupation for anyone accustomed or dedicated to a nine to five routine at a downtown office.

Ability to meet deadlines Media outlets have publication deadlines and expect their contributors to meet them.

Strong interpersonal, communication, and networking skills Many food critics are freelancers whose capacity to connect and interact with potential employers is crucial to their success.

How long does it take to become a Food Critic?

Because there are no set entry requirements to become a food critic, there is no definitive length of time required to enter the field. However, as most prospective food critics earn a Bachelor’s Degree in English, journalism, or communications, a minimum of four years of study is typical. A degree is often supplemented with culinary courses and must, of course, be combined with practical work experience, either as a freelancer or with an employer. It is therefore not uncommon for a food critic to spend five or six years before earning credibility, building a reputation, and becoming established in the field.

What are Food Critics like?

Many people think that being a food critic is about being critical. This is only partly true. The career is more about paying attention and noticing details. Just because a particular eating establishment is not preferred by one critic does not mean it will not be appealing to a certain segment of readers or listeners. No restaurant will please everyone. The job of a food critic is to present his or her experience as clearly as possible. One of the objectives in this line of work is to avoid misleading your audience.

The food critic’s secondary audience is the restaurant itself. A thoughtful review is an opportunity for the establishment to consider, from an outsider’s perspective, what is working and what is not. A constructive critique need not always dismay proprietors and managers; it can, in fact, result in positive change in food, service, and atmosphere. In some cases, it can even lead to gratitude to the critic.

The quintessential critic loves to write or speak publicly; has an eye for detail; enjoys eating new cuisine; is interested in all aspects of the food and restaurant industries; and is comfortable working in a fiercely competitive field. It is in developing these characteristics and qualities that critics derive their sense of professional integrity and cultivate longevity and respect among their peers and their audience.

Steps to becoming a Food Critic

Education. Experience. Expertise. As is true for most careers, these three words succinctly summarize the road to becoming a food critic.

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