It’s an axiom of food writing that the only restaurant critics chefs like are the ones who've just retired. Apparently, that’s not quite true. In fact, The Times has two exceptions on its staff. Jonathan Gold and S. Irene Virbila are both in the Top 10 of the nation’s restaurant critics, according to a poll of chefs and restaurateurs conducted by the Daily Meal website.
In fact, Gold is No. 1 over all, earning the site’s only three-star ranking. Virbila is No. 10, with 2½ stars. In between come Vogue’s Jeffrey Steingarten and the New York Times’ Pete Wells (at 2.8 stars), the Washington Post’s Tom Sietsema and GQ’s John Mariani (at 2.7 stars), then the Atlantic’s Corby Kummer, and the San Francisco Chronicle’s Michael Bauer (2.5 stars).
The critics were rated in terms of culinary knowledge, prose, integrity and “likability” (phrased: “Which critic would you most like to share a meal with?”). Gold finished first in every category but prose quality, where he finished second to Steingarten.
According to a Daily Meal spokesperson, the judges were determined by Daily Meal editorial director Colman Andrews and executive editor Arthur Bovino, who “sat down and developed a ‘wish list’ of chefs and restaurateurs who are among the most well-known and revered in the industry. Dozens of these individuals agreed to participate anonymously but were quite vociferous with their critiques.”