“For $80 I can get a ticket to an event that will reveal to me the identity of the Baltimore Sun’s restaurant critic?” a Romenesko reader asks after seeing the Sun University promo. “I thought these guys were supposed to be super secret. If I were a restaurateur, I think I would go just to see who Richard Gorelick is, then post his picture in the back of my restaurant with a sign that says, ‘If you see this man, treat him like a king.'”
I asked Gorelick about this and he responded:
Yes, he will be able to see what I look like. But he should know that Gertrude’s adds 10 pounds, more like 20.
After a lot of discussion internally and with features editors elsewhere, we feel comfortable expanding the Sun University series into dining.
As you’ve noted in the past, the Association of Food Journalists has acknowledged that true anonymity is virtually impossible in these days of social media. But I do my best. I’ve scrubbed my photograph from the Internet; for this event we will ask attendees not to take pictures. I don’t make reservations in my own name, and I ask that my traditional entrance theme not be played as I’m being seated.
But I don’t wear disguises. I’ve been “spotted” from time to time by restaurant owners and career servers, and other times by people I went to high school with. Whether I’ve been recognized and how that may have affected a meal is absolutely something I consider when I sit down to write the most impartial review possible of a restaurant. But I don’t pretend that I’m perfectly anonymous, and I’m comfortable showing my face at these subscriber events. If I wasn’t, we wouldn’t be doing them.