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Hiring a Food Critic: What You Need To Know

Part of working in the food business is that you're always looking for ways to improve your business and attract more customers. One option that you may have considered is hiring a food critic to review your food and draw attention to your business. While there are certainly potential benefits to this strategy, there are also some drawbacks and risks that you should be aware of. In this article, we'll explore the pros and cons of hiring a food critic, how to go about hiring them, and how to prepare for the visit. Our goal is to help you decide if hiring a food critic the right move for your restaurant.

Should You Hire a Food Critic?

Pros of Hiring a Food Critic

The biggest advantage of hiring a food critic is the potential for positive publicity. If the critic writes a glowing review of your restaurant, it could help to improve your reputation and bring in new customers. Many people rely on restaurant reviews to decide where to eat, and a positive review from a well-respected critic can be a powerful endorsement. This is especially true for people who are traveling to your area.

Another potential benefit is that a food critic can offer valuable feedback on your menu, service, and overall experience. Keep in mind that the food critic does this for a living, and has a ton of experience going to restaurants, cafes, diners and other food service businesses. By listening to the critic's suggestions and criticisms, you may be able to identify areas where you can improve and provide an even better dining experience for your customers.

Cons of Hiring a Food Critic

The biggest risks of hiring a food critic is the potential for negative reviews. If the critic doesn't like your food, service, or atmosphere, they may write a scathing review that could damage your reputation and drive away potential customers. Negative reviews can be especially harmful if they are widely circulated on social media or other online platforms.

Another potential issue is conflicts of interest. If the critic has a personal relationship with someone at your restaurant, or if they have a financial stake in the restaurant, their review may be biased and less trustworthy. This can damage the credibility of the review and may make readers less likely to take it seriously.

How to Decide if You Should Hire a Food Critic

Ultimately, the decision to hire a food critic will depend on your specific goals and circumstances. If you're looking to improve your restaurant's reputation and attract new customers, and you're confident in the quality of your food and service, then hiring a critic may be a good idea. However, if you're concerned about negative reviews or conflicts of interest, it may be best to focus on other marketing and promotional strategies.

How to Hire a Food Critic

If you've made the decision to hire a food critic, you may be wondering where to start. It's important to approach the process carefully and thoughtfully. Let's review how to hire a food critic, from researching candidates to negotiating a compensation package.

Research Potential Candidates

The first step in hiring a food critic is to research potential candidates. Look for food critics who have a reputation for fairness, honesty, and expertise in your cuisine or style of restaurant. Check out their past reviews to see if they seem like a good fit for your restaurant. If the Food Critic notoriously only provides glowing reviews they may be less trusted, so try to find a food critic who is fair.

It's also important to consider the critic's level of influence. A critic with a large following or a prominent position in the food industry may be able to provide more valuable publicity for your restaurant, but keep in mind they may also be much more expensive.

Once you've identified potential candidates, reach out to them and ask if they are available for hire. It's important to establish clear expectations and guidelines for the critic's role and responsibilities before moving forward.

Set Clear Expectations

Before hiring the food critic you've reached out to, it's important to establish clear expectations for their role and responsibilities. Discuss what you are looking for in a review, such as a focus on particular dishes or aspects of the dining experience. It's also important to establish a timeline for the review, and to discuss any specific requests or requirements you may have.

Negotiate a Fair Compensation Package

Once you've established the critic's role and expectations, it's time to negotiate a compensation package. Be prepared to pay the critic a fair rate for their services, as well as any additional expenses such as travel or accommodations. Be sure to discuss payment terms and any potential conflicts of interest, such as if the critic has any financial ties to your restaurant.

It's important to establish a clear understanding of what the critic will provide in return for their compensation. Will they provide a written review, and if so, when can you expect to receive it? Where will they be publishing your review? Will this be in a paper or magazine, or will it be online? Will pictures be included? Are there any restrictions on how you can use the review, such as whether or not you can quote from it in your marketing materials or have it on your website?

How to Prepare for a Food Critic's Visit

A positive review can bring in new customers and boost your reputation, while a negative review can turn away potential diners. That's why it's important to prepare for a food critic's visit to your restaurant. Let's review the steps you need to take before the food critic you hired visits.

  1. Train Your Staff
    Make sure your staff is prepared for the critic's visit. Train them to be extra attentive and to provide exceptional service. Let them know that a critic will be visiting and emphasize the importance of providing a great dining experience.
  2. Evaluate Your Menu
    Take a close look at your menu and consider if any changes need to be made. Highlight your signature dishes and make sure they are prepared perfectly. Consider adding some new items or specials that showcase your restaurant's strengths. You may also want to offer a tasting menu or a selection of smaller plates that allow the critic to try a variety of dishes.
  3. Check Your Atmosphere
    Consider the atmosphere of your restaurant. Is it clean and welcoming? Are the tables and chairs comfortable? Is the lighting appropriate? Make any necessary changes to create a comfortable and enjoyable dining experience. Make sure every part of the restaurant has had a thorough cleaning - especially the bathrooms.
  4. Practice, Practice, Practice
    Practice your service and make sure everything is running smoothly. Have your staff run through the service with a mock critic. Make sure your mock critic has some tricky questions prepared. This will help them to identify any issues and to practice their responses to questions and requests.
  5. Be Prepared for the Review
    Finally, be prepared for the review. Whether the critic's review is positive or negative, it's important to respond appropriately. If the review is positive, thank the critic for their kind words and use the review to promote your restaurant. If the review is negative, take it as an opportunity to identify areas for improvement and to make changes.


Hiring a food critic can be a risky but potentially rewarding strategy for restaurants. By carefully weighing the pros and cons and considering your specific needs and goals, you can make an informed decision about whether or not to hire a critic as part of your marketing strategy. Preparing for a food critic's visit can be nerve-wracking, but with the right preparation, you can make sure that the critic has a great dining experience and that your restaurant is showcased in the best possible light. We hope this guide helped you decide if you should hire a food critic, and has provided all the necessary advice on having a great experience.