Every wonder what its like to be a restaurant critic? New York Times scribe Pete Wells—who has been the news quite a bit since his viral review of Guy’s American Kitchen + Bar—lifted the veil this week and answered reader questions about his job. Not surprisingly, more than one person asked about Guy Fieri. Here are a some highlights from his extensive Q&A session:

  • On Guy Fieri. The saga gets a few footnotes as Wells addresses common critiques of his criticism and shares the reasoning behind his rhetorical question approach. “[T]he decision to address the entire thing as a series of questions to Mr. Fieri was the result of my attempt to square his public persona with the restaurant he opened.” While he was surprised by the response to the review, he concedes, “as my grandmother used to say, if you’re going to dish it out you have to know how to take it.”
  • On restaurant-related pet peeves. Wells says restaurants should not burden customers with logistical issues, such as making them pay by cash only.
  • On Yelp. Yes, he’ll check out the much-maligned site for basic info and to get a general sense of a place when deciding whether it’s worth his time or not. But he also quips, “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.”
  • On critics’ anonymity. He doesn’t bother to put on much of a costume or disguise when he goes to check out the restaurants. He has found that “many of the restaurants I review put more time and energy into spotting me than I could ever put into going unspotted.”

[via The New York Times]