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A (scathing) critique of the online restaurant critic

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Yelp.com, where amateur critics go to rant and rave.
Jet Tila

So if a group of people who know nothing about food can jump on the Internet and become instant food critics just because they can form sentences, well screw it! It’s time for a chef/restaurateur to respond.

My writing skills probably don’t match up to a lot of the Chowhound-Yelping haters of the world, but I challenge any one of you to stand on my line and expo a service and see how you do. Or simply, come and prep and work one single station for a service. Get all your mise en place ready; break down and prep your proteins; make your stocks; make your stocks into sauces; and then get your station ready for service. Once your station is ready for service, go ahead and perfectly make the same dish 50 to 100 times that shift. Oh wait, you’ll also have to make all the “special prep” versions for all the folks that want “SOS” or “sauce on the side,” have allergies, special diets or are just plain picky.

Do that for me and we’ll see how long you’ll be spewing crap on your keyboard about things you know nothing about! When we in the biz read a lot of the crap out there, we laugh at your pathetic ramblings.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying it’s all crap. Of all online reviews, I’d guess about 50 percent are honest and thoughtful, helpful even. Out of the remainder, half are misinformed narcissists who just wanna post something and see themselves “published” online, and the other half, in the common vernacular, are “STRAIGHT HATERS!”

Let’s take Yelp, for example. If you are a Yelper that has racked up 100-plus reviews in one year (I’ve seen some with almost 1,000), you have no credibility in my book. Let’s do the math: 100 restaurants in 52 weeks? You can’t get more than a snapshot. A real food critic eats at least two to three times before beginning a review. That’s how a pro does it. Add a “food blog” and you’re even less credible! And if you tweet more than once an hour about food, but you’ve never worked in the biz, you are the Chow-Yelping hater trifecta!

Again, I’d say 50 percent are legit, food-loving, passionate-about-the-foodie life peeps.

Some examples of what I’m talkin about…

“I'm in love! If it were possible to propose to a Japanese restaurant, I'd ask for restaurant’s name hand in eternal bliss! Every dish is inspired! Bring your ravenous appetite and sample everything!!”

Here’s another steamer…

”Anything Kobe that you find here is orgasmic, the hot pots are to die for, and the tofu is an experience (even my husband enjoyed it and he swears he doesn't like tofu).”

And here’s my favorite!

“Best thing about this place is the cute little filipeno looking hostess who seats you...” Notice the spelling on Filipino. Homeboy couldn’t even run a spell check before submitting his review.

So, if you are reading this and you feeling like, “Hmm. I might be one of these guys Jet is writing about,” I challenge you to stop and imagine living in our sauce-splattered shoes! Picture the guy in the kitchen before you scribble something that could get him fired. Think about banging it out day to day for 10-12 hours, missing holidays, birthdays of loved ones, weekends, weddings and even funerals, and imagine doing all that for years and years only to sit down and read a bunch of crap from people who know nothing about what we do. To those of you who are thoughtful and really are trying to spread the word about a new find that you want to pass on, I thank you and salute you!

I’ll leave you something a very well known food critic once told me: Even if I didn’t enjoy the place, I will be honest about the dishes that didn’t thrill me and not be mean just to be mean. I always think about the hard work and dedication that goes into any restaurant.

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