What is food criticism? Try to describe it in two sentences?

I have never asked myself such a question due to the fact that I still consider myself more a consultant than a critic. By and large, criticism is a subjective assessment of something by an objective person.

Nevertheless, you are also known as a food critic. How did you end up in this profession?

In Russia, the so-called restaurant critics become according to a rather simple scheme … And here I want to emphasize precisely the words “so-called”. At some point, in order to diversify its content, the publication wants to create a column in which restaurants will be rated. They look at the editorial office, choose the person who wrote about politics yesterday, the day before yesterday – about sports, and last week – about culture, and send him to write about restaurants. That is, non-professional people go to this job. Of course, they themselves like it – it’s nice to be a restaurant critic. You go to restaurants, they feed you, if you write something good, they can even give you money, but the end result is a situation where incompetent people are doing the assessment.

In order to become a real restaurant critic, in my opinion, a fairly large number of circumstances must develop. First of all, it is independence from the influence of the restaurateurs or the people behind them. Secondly, it is the experience of teaching and consulting in the restaurant sector. Thirdly, and importantly, a person should be able to write and, in general, express his thoughts not only in an understandable, but also in an interesting language. In addition, of course, a person who calls himself a critic must be believed. It is clear that anyone can take and write something about restaurants, but without the proper “weight” there will be no faith in the words of this person.

Do you think a critic must have good taste?

What does good mean? I, like any normal person, simply do not like some things. Caesar salad, for example. Ditto for creamy soups or cream-based sauces. People nevertheless eat it all, and they like it – is it good or bad? Do not know. Tastes in food, as well as tastes in art, are very subjective, so it is almost impossible to determine what is good and what is bad.

I absolutely do not like the very fashionable molecular cuisine now. I accept this at the level of an experiment, but more often than not it does not work for the restaurant’s earnings and is rather a manifestation of some kind of ambition of the chef, and not concern for the client or a creative direction.

I remembered a funny incident. Once I ordered a beer in a Moscow restaurant, and they brought me something that looked like a bar of laundry soap. When I asked what it was, they explained to me that it was beer, only frozen, that it was a special vision of the chef and that it had to be nibbled. The chef saw beer that way, but at that moment I just wanted a glass of cold beer. Is it good or bad taste?

Read the full version of the article in the new issue of Noble Wine magazine about Burgundy, which will be released on April 16!