‘I can’t rock a wig like Dolly Parton,’ confesses New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells

New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells is taking questions from readers, and curiously so far not one is about his review of Guy Fieri’s Times Square restaurant. (He’s moved on from that and not posting those questions? UPDATE: Those questions have now been posted.)

Here are a few things we learn about Wells and his job from the Q-and-A:

“For a full-length review that is subject to the star system (whether the restaurant ends up getting any stars or not), Times critics always visit the restaurant at least three times. At least.”

“There are a few adjectives that just make my skin crawl, like sinful. The Times would probably frown on orgasmic, with good reason.”

“I’m sure if I ran a word-frequency program over all my reviews to date I’d be mortified by how many dishes were rich, or fragrant, or aromatic, or delicate, or gentle, or crisp, or crunchy.”

“When I lived in the East Village and was always in debt, I ate pierogies at least once a week.”

“I’m lucky enough to have a newspaper that believes in the value of wide-ranging restaurant criticism, and is willing to pay for it, so for the moment I’m not making all my dining decisions based on cost. It won’t last forever, though.”

“I’m not wild about green bell peppers, especially when they’re raw. They contain a chemical that is very potent and hard to ignore.”

“I do wish there were a way to filter out all the Yelp reviews that are based solely on brunch, but that might not leave very much content.”

Regarding disguises: “I can’t rock a wig like Dolly Parton. I’ve looked into it, and quickly discovered that hairpieces that are even remotely convincing cost thousands and thousands of dollars. …I wish I could eat all my meals in anonymity. But many of the restaurants I review put more time and energy into spotting me than I could ever put into going unspotted.”

* Pete Wells, restaurant critic, answers readers’ questions (nytimes.com)
* Earlier: Restaurant critics recall their death threats, funeral wreaths from chefs (jimromenesko.com)

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