Thursday, March 10, 2011

Review of review of review. Sneed stirs it up and we get a spankin.

Posted on Thu, Mar 10, 2011 at 12:00 AM

Chef Jimmy Sneed fired up some conversation in his blog last Thursday when he reviewed Style Weekly's review of his new place, Fresca on Addison. For those wondering where we stand, here's how we responded to his blog:

Jimmy,

Thanks for reiterating your thoughts about the food reviewing process at Style Weekly. We consider it a learning opportunity on all sides.
 
Please know that there's nothing casual about our process in hiring any food writer. Our reviewers must have working experience in the food service industry, demonstrate an informed passion for restaurants, and travel frequently in the United States and internationally to expand their dining experiences and knowledge of food culture. In addition, naturally, they must be able to communicate well.

While the reviewer in question is several decades younger than our senior food writer, her enthusiasm is reminiscent of your own passion for food and for adventurous and informed eating. She's also seen the industry up close, having spent 10-plus years doing every job possible in a restaurant.

Other Style Weekly food reviewers include a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education who's worked at Saveur magazine and the Food Network, and ran her own catering business; another who helped start Slow Food RVA and a food education program at a local elementary school and has written about food for years; and a former Washington Post reporter who has worked as a carhop, waiter, maitre'd and bartender, and now divides his time between Richmond and food-centric Brooklyn.

The latter reviewer, Don Baker, had this to share about your blog post:

"I can't take issue with anything he said about food descriptions. He knows.
 
"Where he errs, I believe, is in believing that knowing the minute details about the food and how it was prepared is of paramount interest to the reader. I think our job is to give the reader a road map to the restaurant. Is it awful, OK, good or great? Is it a pleasant place to spend an hour or two? Is it what it purports to be? If it's Italian or just Italian-American, Chinese-Am, Irish-Am. Is the staff courteous, knowledgeable? Is the service timed properly? Are the prices in line with the product and decor? Is the music too weird or the TV (if there must be one) turned low and confined to the bar?
 
"So I'll make this offer to Jimmy: If he'll settle down and cook the great food he is capable of (and that won't happen at Fresca, no matter how thin the pizza), I'll either quit reviewing or go to culinary school, and if I do the latter, I'll become a chef, because there's more money in it."
Jimmy, it's important to clarify that this reviewer has a positive view of the restaurant industry, and is in fact part of a restaurant family in another city. Her review was well-intentioned and generous; if there are factual errors that have not been corrected, the editors take responsibility for those and will see to it that corrections are made.

We'll link to your post so that your comments can be seen by our readership, and we'll take this challenge as an opportunity to improve our work and better serve the reader.

Deveron Timberlake
Food & Drink Editor

Jason Roop
Editor in Chief

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