Holy. Shit. Restaurateurs, chefs, service industry-ites, foodies, and Eater are inevitably (simultaneously?) celebrating, freaking out, or mourning this morning’s announcement that New York Times chief restaurant critic, Frank Bruni, will be retiring his position. Bruni’s going to be promoting his upcoming book and moving to a position as a writer-at-large for The New York Times Magazine. Personally, I love Bruni, and this makes me really, really sad. That being said, we must look to the horizon, because we’re speculative bloggers with nothing better to do. So: Who will replace Frank Bruni? Unqualified speculation, go!
Grub Street suggests that they could (maybe, possibly) go for a blogger! To which we say: DO NOT WANT. Sorry, Danyelle Freeman, take your trademarked, faux-Rachel Ray ass and GTFO of the Times. You don’t bring Nuke LaLoosh up to the majors without taking him/her on the road, first.
You want someone you know could get the ball past the plate? First name that comes to mind: Adam Platt, obviously. But would he leave his cushy gig at New York for the pressure and expectations placed upon him by NYT readers? Well, chief New York Magazine theater critic Jeremy McCarter bounced from New York to Newsweek last September—leaving the place for a larger national plat(t)form wouldn’t be entirely unexpected.
What about Bloomberg‘s guy, Ryan Sutton? He’s young (30), smart, knows his way around a plate, and is still faceless. Maybe too young for the Times, though, but then again, star Times business reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin is only 32. Sutton’s got a pedigree from a publication that’s not hemorrhaging money, though, and the Times (who is) could be owned by a Mexican Dude Named Slim sometime soon. He might not be so eager to leave the coop, where he knows he’s got a steady gig. “Insatiable Critic” Gael Greene? Old-school, too well known, currently kinda jobless, and the Times just ain’t her thang. The Times isn’t talking to anybody who “brands” themselves as anything, anyway (see Restaurant Girl).
GQ’s Alan Richman is (A) probably read more right now than he’d ever be at the Times, and (B) probably has carte blanche at GQ. Not our favorite pick, though. Neither is Steve “The Cuozz” Cuozzo, who has the kind of crunchy chutzpah New York Post readers need in their reviews.
What about the dark horse contender? The relentlessly asskicking, hard-boiled, put-your-face-in-curb-and-make-you-taste-the-bottom-notes Robert Sietsema of the Village Voice deserves to be in a far better place than he is, and the Voice seems to be ousting anybody worth their salt, anyway. He could no doubt introduce Times-only readers to far more eclectic stuff than they’re used to, and the dude takes absolutely no prisoners whatsoever. That being said, his language isn’t as flowery as the Times‘ usual skeeze, and also, he’s from the Voice. Too “downtown?”
Okay, fine, we admit it: we have absolutely no idea who the front runner possibly could be, or if one even exists. That being said, my pick goes to bringing back former Times “$25 and Under” writer Peter Meehan. But when Meehan left last year, he sounded ready to hit the road from being a restaurant critic while speaking the high praises of Nick Fox and Nina Lalli. So if we can’t get our man Meehan—who’s reviewed some of our favorite restaurants in New York, and given them great ink, no matter what the opinion—we’ll go for his proteges.