What is a food critic?
A food critic is someone who samples dishes and drinks at restaurants, cafes or pubs. They review the quality, taste and presentation of the food, along with the overall service provided. Food critics then produce written or video commentary to share their thoughts and opinions.
A food critic’s main goal is to help the public choose places to eat. If a critic leaves a positive review of an establishment, it can help to attract customers, therefore encouraging businesses to keep up their standards.
What does a food critic do?
A food critic’s duties will vary depending on the type of restaurants or food they specialise in. Some common responsibilities include:
- Tasting dishes and drinks to evaluate the flavour, quality and presentation
- Evaluating the service and overall standards of the establishment
- Taking pictures of dishes and drinks
- Writing or filming engaging content to accurately represent findings
- Attending promotional events
- Staying up to date with the latest industry trends
What skills are needed to become a food critic?
To work as a food critic, you’ll need to have an appreciation for a variety of cuisines as well as the ability to write creative content.
The key skills needed to be a food critic include:
- A passion for food and drink
- An ability to write and think creatively
- Strong time management skills
- Excellent communication skills
- An ability to meet deadlines
- An honest and fair personality
- Excellent attention to detail
- Strong knowledge of different flavours, tastes and textures
- An ability to be flexible and take criticism
What qualifications are needed to become a food critic?
You don’t need any formal qualifications to be a food critic, but completing a course can be a great way to develop your skills and demonstrate experience to future employers.
Since writing is an important part of the role, you could study journalism, creative writing or English at university or college. It’s also necessary to have knowledge of different foods and cuisines, so taking a course in food science or culinary arts can also be beneficial.
“If you want to write about food, first you have to learn to write.”
Steps to become a food critic
If you want to become a food critic, there are a few steps you’ll need to take first.
Step one: Complete courses and gain qualifications
As previously mentioned, you don’t need to have any specific qualifications to work as a food critic, but the more experience you can demonstrate, the easier it’ll be to land a job.
You could study for a communications or writing-based degree or diploma at university or college, which would help you build-up those all important writing skills.
There are also a number of online food critic courses which you could complete to gain a better understanding of the career itself.
Step two: Keep practising your writing skills
Food critics need to keep people engaged with their writing, so the more practice you can get, the better.
You could volunteer to write for your university, a local publication or even an unpaid review for a restaurant. This will help you to build out a strong portfolio that demonstrates your writing style.
Starting your own food blog is also a great way to hone your skills and network with other food bloggers and critics. Writing for a personal blog will also help you to develop your own unique tone and style, helping you to stand out from the crowd.
Step three: Pitch yourself to publications
Once you’ve crafted a strong portfolio, it’s time to start pitching! Try starting with smaller, local publications before working your way up to the larger organisations. At the start of your career you’ll need to be creative and make sure your voice gets heard. The more experience you gain, the easier it’ll be to find a job.
How much does a food critic earn in the UK?
The average salary for a food critic in the UK is around £32,864 per year(2). However, your salary will depend on whether you’re employed or freelance. The amount you earn will rise as you gain more experience and become better known within the industry.
Is it easy to become a food critic?
Food critics need to be dedicated, hard working and prepared to face rejection. In the early days of your career, you’ll be competing against others in the industry, which isn’t always an easy task. But if you’re prepared to put in the effort, you can quickly gain a reputation within the industry.
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