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Career as Food Critic

Career as a Food Critic

About Food Critic

A Food Critic is an interesting career that sits on the fence between journalism and culinary technology. Food critics are individuals who visit different restaurants and write reviews of the food or the restaurant. There are many factors involved in the preparation and serving of a dish and a food critic must be aware of all of the different aspects involved in food preparation. The second important role that a food critic must be able to play is to judge the quality and taste of the food being served. The third and the most important part of the job of a food critic is to be able to communicate their experience to the reader so that the reader can get an accurate picture of what the food tasted like and whether it would suit him/her or not.

A food critic takes several factors into account when judging a dish or a restaurant. These include the presentation, smell, taste, texture, mouthfeel, ambience, service, decor, location, price etc. Therefore, it is important for a food critic to have a good knowledge of the functioning of the restaurant industry to be able to provide sound judgement on the basis of their experience. Food critics must also have excellent communication skills, which can be verbal or written, depending on the medium of communication they are associated with such as blog, TV, radio etc. In the digital world, social media has played a very significant role in the increase in the popularity of food critic as a career. Social media has also created a need for food critics to develop additional skills including photography, digital marketing, web content creation etc.

A person who is interested in becoming a food critic must be passionate about food and have an adventurous palette. Food critics are often required to taste unusual flavours as part of their jobs and a person with a weak stomach or very limited tastes is not very well suited for this role. The career is also suited for the people who love to explore, travel, visit new places and restaurants, and meet new people. This is a career choice where almost all of the well-recognized faces are self-made celebrities who have worked hard for a place at the top. Resilience and patience is the key when it comes to becoming a successful food critic as experience plays a major role in this career.

Eligibility to become Food Critic

A food critic is a career choice that does not have any eligibility criteria. Anybody who has a passion for food can become a food critic. However, having a formal education does help to join and rise in this field.

For most cases, an undergraduate degree in the field of culinary technology or journalism is sufficient for a food critic. What ultimately makes or break a food critic, however, is the amount of experience they have had and their networking skills. The following degrees can help you on the career path to becoming a food critic.

  • Diploma in Hotel Management

  • Bachelor of Hotel Management (BHM)

  • Bachelor of Hotel Management and Catering Technology (BHMCT)

  • Bachelor of Catering Technology & Culinary Arts (BCTCA)

  • BA in Culinary Arts

  • Bachelor of Journalism

  • Bachelor of Journalism and Mass Communication (BJMC)

Any course that helps develop the communication skills of a candidate can also be used to become a food critic. Candidates can also take up:

  • BA in English / Hindi

  • BA English (Hons.)

For the most part, food critics will not be required to go for postgraduate education. Instead, depending on their medium (broadcast media / social media / YouTube) or the niche in the industry, they can look for the certificate and online courses to help improve their skills in communication, public speaking, creative writing, photography, photo editing, video production and editing etc.

Types of Job Roles Food Critic

Food critics can take up various roles in the industry, depending upon their place of employment and nature of work. Some of the commonly available job roles for food critic include the following.

  • Food Journalist: Food journalists work for media outlets such as newspapers and magazines. They are required to sample food from various restaurants as required by their agency and then write reviews based on their experience. The reviews of food journalists are published on the media agencies that they work for.

  • Freelance Food Writer: Food critics may also choose to take up freelance writing projects, which requires them to write anything related to food. These may include restaurant reviews, recipe reviews, product recipes, web content from restaurants etc. Freelance writers usually take up a wide variety of roles to gain experience and improve salary prospects.

  • Food Blogger: Blogging is one of the most popular media used by food critics. Popular social media platforms, particular Instagram and YouTube have proved to be excellent platforms that have not only helped make the career increasingly popular among food enthusiasts but also helped food critics better monetize their skills. 

  • Food Safety and Hygiene Manager: This is a more technical role related to the role of a food critic. It requires professional to have completed formal education (typically a BSc or MSc degree in subjects related to Food Technology or Microbiology), which can help them provide accurate analysis of the quality of food products and hygiene practices followed by the industry.

  • Food Taster: Many food manufacturing companies may hire food tasters who taste their new and upcoming products and provide a review of the flavours.

    Employment Sector/Industry for Food Critic

    The job of a food critic is to provide unbiased reviews to the reader's so that the reader is able to judge whether they wish to visit a restaurant or not. The experience and skills acquired by the food critic are not only helpful for the reader but the restaurant as well. Some restaurants may hire a food critic to provide them with feedback in order to help them improve their services. Food critics may also be hired by restaurants to create a portfolio of their dishes and provide written content for their websites. Some of the most popular recruiting areas for food critics include the following.

    •  Media Agencies (TV Channels, Newspapers, Magazines etc.)
    • Restaurants

    • Food Publication Agencies

    • Food Production Industries

    • Freelancing: Most Food Critics go for freelancing.

     

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    Pay Scale/Salary of Food Critic

    Given below are the important details about the salary of food critics in India

    • The starting roles available for food critics are usually internship or writing roles in media outlets, which have a low salary. The starting salary of a food critic can range from around Rs. 2 - 3 LPA.
    • With 2 - 3 years of experience, a food critic can take up more challenging roles and improve their salary. On average, the salary for an experienced food critic can range from around Rs. 4 - 6 LPA.

    • Food critics who have had 5 - 8 years of experience can earn much higher salaries. The salaries for senior-level food critics can go upwards of Rs. 8 LPA and professionals can also earn over Rs. 10 LPA in the field.

    • Freelance food critics can also earn a good salary in this field by product promotion, advertisement, sales etc.

    Books & Study Material to Become Food Critic

    Name of the BookAuthorPublisher
    The Pedant in the KitchenJulian BarnesGrove Atlantic
    Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in DisguiseRuth ReichlPenguin USA
    Rude Food and DrinkVir SanghviPenguin India
    Kitchen ConfidentialAnthony BourdainBloomsbury Publishing India Private Limited
    In Defence of Food: The Myth of Nutrition and the Pleasures of EatingMichael PollanPenguin

    Pros of becoming a Food Critic

    • It is an exciting career choice that has immense scope for creative freedom.

    • Self-defined work schedule.

    • Provides chances to explore new places and travel.

    Cons of becoming a Food Critic

    • Initial phase may require a ton of hard work and patience without results.

    • Food critics may have to take up other related writing roles to kickstart their career.

    • Freelance food writing projects may not pay well enough.

    Paths for Being Food Critic

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