About the Critics 

Don Baker's first experience with restaurants came as a carhop at a Hot Shoppes in Washington, D.C., where one of his summer co-workers was J.W. Marriott, whose dad owned the joint. His restaurant "career" resumed many years later, as a volunteer waiter/maitre d' at a friend's restaurant, Positano, in Bethesda, Md.

In 1987, the late George Stoddart, a freelance reviewer at Style, invited Baker to share duties. Because of their day jobs — Stoddart was the public relations director at Circuit City; Baker was The Washington Post's reporter in Richmond — they adopted pen names. (We no longer use noms de plume.)

After a hiatus, Baker reviewed restaurants for 64, a monthly arts magazine. When it folded, he returned to Style. A mediocre but enthusiastic cook, Baker thinks of himself more as a storyteller than a critic. His food writing has been acknowledged by prestigious national organizations.

Joseph W. Cates has been cooking since he was 9. He put himself through college working as a line cook and served as chef at many restaurants, including critically acclaimed eateries in Bowling Green, Ohio; Portland, Ore.; and here in Richmond, where he relied on knives and fire to support himself while getting a master's degree in writing from Virginia Commonwealth University.

A strong believer that all writing should tell a story (especially food reviews), Cates revels in each opportunity to enter a restaurant and weigh its future against its present:what it aspires to be and what it is. A national award-winning writer, Cates teaches creative writing. He's been reviewing restaurants for Style since 2004.

B.P. Fox worked her way through college and graduate school in and around the restaurants of Richmond. After earning her master's degree in English from the University of Virginia, she worked in the film business before deciding to pursue a writing career. She's been critiquing restaurants for Style since 2005.

Her popular food blog, www.brandoneats.com, combines her interest in cooking and eating with what's happening in the Richmond and regional culinary scene, and it's been nominated for national blog-writing awards. Her writing has also appeared in The Washington Post.

At age 14, Patrick Getlein learned firsthand the rigors of the production kitchen as he prepped sides and washed dishes at Camp Sequassen in Connecticut. The customers: 300 kids, for three meals a day, eight weeks straight.

Getlein has worked as a chain-restaurant busboy and country-club short-order cook, and he's a senior judge of the State Fair of Virginia wine competition. In addition to Style, his work has appeared in The Washington Post, Washington Golf Monthly and the Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star.

  • Back to State of the Plate 2007.


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