How to Become a Restaurant Critic

How to Become a Restaurant Critic

If you love to write, have an eye for detail and enjoy eating new cuisine, a job as a restaurant critic might be ideal for you.


Although this field is highly competitive, it offers opportunity to attend different restaurants several nights a week, and do your writing from home. And with food blogs becoming more common, employment opportunities exist in many different forms.


If this career field sounds promising, then read on below; we’ll fill you in on what you’d be doing, how much you could make, and what you need to do to get into this field!



What is a Restaurant Critic?

A restaurant critic is a writer that supplies clear and consistent appraisals of the standards and food quality of various restaurants. They may write for newspapers, magazines, websites and other outlets.



Education You May Need

Although it is not necessary to have formal training to become a restaurant critic, most employers prefer to hire experienced print reporters, columnists or broadcasters (who often have post-secondary education related to journalism).


Having a background related to food service or preparation (whether through education, experience, or a combination thereof) can also be a great asset for this career. 



Experience You’ll Need

Being a food and restaurant critic is the dream job of many, so it should come as no surprise that this is a very popular and competitive field. As such, it can be very difficult to get your foot in the door with a publisher.


Most food critics get into the field as general journalists; they begin by writing about anything and everything before being offered the post of food & restaurant critic. Some have also started by writing reviews for free, and submitting them to publications, honing their craft as they go.


Alternatively, you can start your own food blog, or write guest submissions for the blogs or websites of others. Any reviews you write can be used in your portfolio. Who knows, your blog may even become successful to the point where it's your full-time job.


Please Note: As with most writing jobs, it will be very difficult to get paid work at the outset, and as you begin to develop a portfolio of published work, it gets easier.



Skills You’ll Need

In order to become a successful restaurant critic and reviewer, you’ll need the following skills and competencies:


• Knowledge of the food service industry

• Able to discuss food presentation, service experience and food flavour in an entertaining and informative way

• Able to build trust with readers by being consistent in approaches to reviews

• An understanding of reader expectations for food quality appraisal and service standards at various levels

• An intuitive appreciation for creative writing

• A broad and sensitive pallet; cannot be a ‘picky’ eater

• Able to manage a dynamic “social calendar”, and be mobile enough to travel

• Able to manager multiple copy projects simultaneously



What You'd Be Doing

As a restaurant critic, you would analyze every aspect of a restaurant, including the service, atmosphere and the quality and taste of the food. You would then publish an engaging and informative opinion of your experience.


You might also be responsible for preparing articles relating to the opening or closing of local restaurants, or preparing special articles, such as citing the best lunch establishments within a city.


If working as a self-employed food blogger, you would also be responsible for overseeing technical maintenance of your blog, developing and implementing a revenue model, and performing many other web management duties.



General Job Duties

Although the functions you would perform could vary from job to job, the tasks you would be responsible for as a restaurant critic would probably be very similar to those listed below:


• Dine at food establishments, possibly multiple times, to identify strengths and weaknesses

• Evaluate the quality of ingredients used and the presentation of the dish

• Evaluate the proficiency and quality of the customer service

• Perform administrative duties such as keeping track of receipts

• Prepare restaurant reviews and submit for publication

• Maintain impartiality in reviews

• Maintain list of restaurants, categorized by type, region, price, atmosphere and other factors

• Conduct research to find new and upcoming food service establishments that readers may want to know about

• Remain consistent, in order to build trust with your readers




Is this Role Right for You?

You might be very well cut out for work as a restaurant critic if you have the following personal characteristics and attributes:


• You have a keen interest in writing

• You enjoy finding innovative ways to express your views

• You enjoy stimulating public interest and discussion

• You’re willing to deal with the reality of angry restaurateurs and readers

• You like to work independently, with self-direction

• You're willing to spend time and effort honing your craft

• You're willing to work your way into a very competitive field



Who Employs Restaurant Critics?

As a restaurant critic, you could work for the following types of organizations:


• Newspapers

• Food and lifestyle magazines (online and/or offline)

• Food blogs and websites

• Radio, television and web-based broadcasters


Some critics work as full time in-house employees for publications, although many are employed as freelancers. Some are even self-employed as magazine, website or blog owners.


Jobs with print media are considered to be vanishing, but they still exist. They are however, very competitive.


Fortunately, with the rise of digital media, all sorts of new opportunities are becoming available. Online magazines, blogs and other food-oriented digital outlets employ restaurant critics.



Restaurant Critic Salary

The salary level you could earn as a restaurant critic can vary, typically depending on the following factors:


• Your reputation

• The size and type of your employer

• The region in which you work

• The medium in which your work is published (magazine, newspaper, online, etc.)

• Whether or not you’re self-employed


Unfortunately there is no salary information available from reliable sources for restaurant critics. We can however, get a good idea of what you might earn by looking at the salary levels of workers in closely related occupations.


Restaurant Critic Salary - Canada: According to Service Canada, the average salary level of Canadian workers in the Journalists occupational group (which includes “newspaper critics”) is $58,000 per year.


Restaurant Critic Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of American workers in the Writers and Authors occupational group is $58,850 per year.



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Alternate Titles

Other titles to describe the job of a restaurant critic include:


• Food critic

• Food journalist

• Food writer

• Food reviewer

• Restaurant reviewer



Careers Similar to ‘Restaurant Critic’

Listed below are some of the occupations in our database that have similar responsibilities, and/or require similar skills, or be in the same sector of industry, as Restaurant Critic:


• Blogger

• Columnist

• Journalist

• Restaurant Manager

• Restaurateur

• Theatre Critic




Salary information for this career guide, as well as other information, was retrieved from the websites listed below:


Occupations in Alberta: Critic.” (March 9, 2016). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 12, 2020.

Word of Mouth Restaurant Blog:Restaurant critic: your dream job or your worst nightmare?.” Jennifer Ah-Kin (February 13, 2013). The Guardian website. Retrieved January 12, 2020.

Articles:So you want to become a restaurant critic.” Laura Shunk (n.d.) The Week website. Retrieved January 12, 2020.



Scholarships for Becoming a Restaurant Critic

The “Applicable Majors” section below shows fields of study relevant to a career as a restaurant critic. You can search for scholarships matched to those fields of study on our Journalism Scholarships page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Becoming a Restaurant Critic: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the college/university majors listed below can be helpful for becoming a restaurant critic. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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