Inspired by the sound and fury generated from Pete Wells’ 51-question attack of Guy’s American Kitchen + Bar, journalist Jim Romesko decided to hit up notable food critics around the country for a virtual roundtable discussion. In addition to insights into the Wells vs. Fieri saga, they also provided some fascinating anecdotes about the aftermath of giving bad reviews. For the most part, they defended their own and explained why Wells acted well within his role as a critic.

  • Jonathan Gold of Los Angeles Times:In sheer dollars, Fieri’s place was probably the biggest opening in NYC this season. Critics review things like Adam Sandler movies all the time; why should restaurant critics be limited to highbrow dining rooms? And Fieri won’t lose a single customer.”
  • Craig Laban of The Philadelphia Inquirer: “I understand the backlash that Fieri might have been too easy a target for the NYT. But I disagree. True, no one expects a celebrity restaurant in Times Square to be any good. But Fieri is more than just a big name chef. He’s become a cultural icon whose influence on the American pop dialogue (let alone its dining scene) is enormous.”
  • Providence Cicero of Seattle Times: “I think Pete Wells wrote a brilliant piece of satire and the funniest restaurant review I’ve ever read, which doesn’t surprise me because he has always been a food and wine writer who rises above the genre.”
  • Michael Russell of The Oregonian: “The typical criticism of a critic, usually levied by the restaurant owner or his or her friends or fans, is that the reviewer ‘has an agenda.’ Fieri argued as much about the Times review. But that’s rarely the case. Pete Wells, for example, did a great job of two things required of a critic — he presented evidence backing up his thesis (if anything, he had too much), and he judged the restaurant based on its own ambitions.”