In It for the Long Haul at Weekly Open Thread

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A Zen moment from the reviews of Sam Sifton, former New York Times restaurant reviewer
  • Eater.com
  • A Zen moment from the reviews of Sam Sifton, former New York Times restaurant reviewer
Restaurant reviewing is a high burnout job, and the higher the profile, the higher the burnout rate. Exhibit A, the last five reviewers at The New York Times.

I keep a mental count in my head of the Times restaurant writers I've outlasted since I started reviewing in 1992. I will share that with you now.

Bryan Miller, Ruth Reichl, William Grimes and Frank Bruni ...

And now Sam Sifton has moved on to an editorial position on the Times' national desk. While the search for a new restaurant reviewer gets under way, Eric Asimov will act as interim reviewer.

For my money, Sifton was the least foodie of the lot, and the least suave prose stylist. (Go here and scroll down for a hilarious selection of Sifton quotes set on zen backgrounds.)

Two years is a pretty short tenure, and I wondered if those factors influenced Sifton's departure. Or maybe dining out every night, sometimes more than once each night, wore thin, coupled with the ungodly amount of perfectly crafted writing involved. At well more than 40 hours, it's a life, not a job.

Bryan Miller, whose Times tenure followed that of Craig Claiborne confided in his farewell column that although he'd lived in his apartment for nine years, the oven had never been turned on.

The departure of the restaurant reviewer from a major daily newspaper was a tectonic shift even a decade ago. But now, with many more places for information — Urbanspoon, Yelp, Chowhound, Twitter, Facebook and dozens of local blogs — neither a single review or a single reviewer is as important to diners seeking good places to eat.

And for the restaurateurs, the single reviewer isn't as critical to success. Or failure.

That's the biggest news of the week in the expanding universe of people who write about food. But other stuff happened too, so bring your questions, complaints, comments and compliments to Bites' weekly open thread.

Zen moments from the reviews of Sam Sifton, former New York Times restaurant reviewer
  • eater.com
  • Zen moments from the reviews of Sam Sifton, former New York Times restaurant reviewer

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