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Food Critic – An Unusual and Rewarding Career Choice

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Imagine being paid to consume the finest food at the classiest restaurant. All you have to do in return is give an honest opinion. Culinary writing is no less than story-telling. A good food critic is not just a knowledgeable diner but also an absorbing storyteller. Many aspirants envision a life of sampling exotic cuisines, writing reviews and living a life of gastronomic adventure. An aspiring food critic need to be aware of the works of eminent names in the trade like A A Gill, M F K Fisher, Elizabeth David or our very own Vir Sanghvi or Vinod Dua.

Who is a Food Critic?

A food critic is one who analyzes food or restaurants and publishes their reviews. A food critic is just NOT a foodie – he is someone with a strong passion for food. He has the understanding and taste for good food, along with the ability to transform these taste-bud experiences to words – that can be understood by a layman (on the lookout for a restaurant/food joint), before a big night out.

Who can be a Food Critic?

As general rule, critics are taken seriously due to the nature of their job. So a critic basically has to be well versed with subject he/she might be handling – well enough to be able to comment on it. As a Food Critic, one must keep personal preferences at bay and avoid highlighting negatives. These qualities are imperative not only for producing an unbiased review but also in explaining the marginal negatives. A Food Critic must keep himself / herself abreast with new food inventions, not just native but international cuisines should also be a part of study for him/her. Apart from excellent knowledge of wide variety of food and wines – a flair for writing and a clear expression are extremely necessary.

Education & Job Scope

Food Critics do not require a specialized degree, to work, but one must polish the writing skills and consider joining a creative writing course. Coursework in culinary schools is an added advantage (but not necessary), along with having experience in writing and publishing works. A few other skills that may help a food critic to succeed would include: love and passion for understanding different kinds of food and celebrating these differences; relevant training and experience in culinary schools and restaurants; strong and effective writing skills along with unbiased and constructive criticism.

One also has to have know-how of restaurant business as it is the major field of operation. A degree in Hotel Management may be ideal but knowledge of what goes on behind the plush settings and in the kitchen can also be gained through working in a restaurant and observing things closely. Working in a restaurant setting can be very practical approach to be a Food Critic.

Most Food Critics work as freelancers but but many are employed in magazines dealing especially in food and wine or also in newspapers and general magazines. They also work in television media, in TV shows and also write content for culinary websites.

Salary & Earning Potential

A food critic may expect a salary of around USD 45,000 per annum (in USA). However, it shall be different for freelance writers, depending on the articles sold and published. Freelancers may be paid on per assignment basis anywhere between Rs. 1000 to Rs. 10,000. Like all other professions, the salary increases according to the status and experience of the Food Critic.

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