Can food critics make or break a restaurant?

Sunday, 22 June 2014 - 6:40am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Do food critics really matter, and do they have the power to make or break a restaurant? Shraddha Uchil talks to three Indian chefs to find out whether reviews have made a difference to their careers

Ranveer Brar
Senior executive chef, Novotel Mumbai

I've always taken criticisms very positively. I think food critics are important.
The senior ones in particular don't just trash your restaurant and food; they allow dialogue. In today's age, I don't think a critique can make or break a restaurant. Social media and websites like Zomato and Burrp have diluted the critics scene — there are so many food bloggers around. In the old days, you'd read two newspapers because their food critics could be trusted, and their reviews would make all the difference. That's not true any more. But reviews do factor into your dining decision. Before going to a restaurant, people like looking at the Burrp or Zomato score.

Thomas Zacharias
Former chef-in-charge, Olive Bar & Kitchen, Bandra

In some way, chefs and food critics feed off each other — one can't exist without the other. A lot of great critics abroad know what they are talking about when they do a review, but in India, that's not the case. Of course, there are some very good critics here too, but unfortunately not a lot of them review anonymously, which is the biggest issue. This obviously leads to biased reviews of a restaurant. Moreover, a lot of reviews by food bloggers these days end up looking very generic, all sounding pretty much the same. How can their opinion be trusted? I do, however, believe that any publicity is good publicity.

Rahul Akerkar
Founder and director de cuisine, Indigo

Only a few critics appreciate and understand what they are eating and critiquing. Having a food blog doesn't necessarily qualify you to be a food critic. Years ago, when I was talking to a very famous food critic from London, he told me that if a restaurant was not worth talking about, he wouldn't review it; he wasn't going to slam a restaurant just because it gave him pleasure. And that's how it should be. But here in India, we have a tendency to criticise everything, it's in our blood. "Critics" here expect you to invite them, pick them up and drop them. And I thought the whole purpose of a critique is to review a restaurant anonymously!

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