Critics have it easy, right? They sit there, enjoy the fruits of a kitchen’s labor, then have the opportunity (if they feel like it) to unmercifully break a restaurant down in about 800 words.

The Daily Meal thinks chefs and restaurateurs aren’t the only ones who should be judged. For the second year running, The Daily Meal polled dozens of top chefs and restaurateurs and asked them to vote on, rate, and rank America’s best-known food critics. For several critics, the results were less than favorable, and the chefs did not water down their harsh opinions. The chefs and restaurateurs who voted remain anonymous, but The Daily Meal assures us that “they’re all elite industry figures.”

For the second year, The L.A. Times’ Jonathan Gold took top honors while the Orange County Register’s Brad. A. Johnson got the lowest overall score. Gold was awarded almost a half star more than in 2012, and even fewer dissenting comments. One of the chef critics said about Gold, “He cracks me up. He is so passionate, even-keeled, informative, and that dude can write! He makes me want to eat at whatever joint he writes about tomorrow.” 


Some other excellent/hilarious remarks from the chef critics:

  • On TIME’s Josh Ozersky: One chef’s comment on why he’d never eat with Ozersky: ‘I’d like to keep my food down'”
  • On The NYT’s Pete Wells:  “A @#$%&*@ #$%& who needs to get off his soapbox and bandwagon.”
  • On L.A. Times’ Jonathan Gold: “Love Jonathan and his writing; he is down to earth, smart, and real.”
  • On The Washington Post’s Tom Sietsema:A very formidable palate stuck in a town that should have better food.”
  • On The Atlantic’s Corby Kummer: “He’s a curmudgeon, but a fabulous, intelligent writer, and one with integrity.”


Here’s the complete ranking of restaurant critics, from worst to best:

22.) Brad A. Johnson, The Orange County Register, 1.62 Stars
21.) Steve Cuozzo, New York Post, 1.77 Stars
20.) John Mariani, Esquire and Bloomberg, 1.88 Stars
19.) Josh Ozersky, TIME, 2.11 Stars
18.) Craig Laban, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 2.18 Stars
17.) Alison Cook, Houston Chronicle, 2.35 Stars
16.) Alan Richman, GQ, 2.39 Stars
15.) Adam Platt, New York Magazine, 2.41 Stars
14.) Gael Greene,, 2.413 Stars
13.) Phil Vettel, Chicago Tribune, 2.47 Stars
12.) Tim Carman, Washington Post, 2.56 Stars
11.) Robb Walsh, Houstonia Magazine, 2.59 Stars
10.) S. Irene Virbila, Los Angeles Times, 2.61 Stars
9.) Jeffrey Steingarten, Vogue, 2.62 Stars
8.) Daniel Vaughn, Texas Monthly, 2.81 Stars
7.) Andrew Knowlton, Bon Appétit, 2.82 Stars
6.) Pete Wells, The New York Times, 2.99 Stars
5.) Corby Kummer, The Atlantic, 3.12 Stars
4.) Michael Bauer, San Francisco Chronicle, 3.16 Stars
3.) Brett Anderson, The Times-Picayune, 3.2825 Stars
2.) Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, 3.2875 Stars
1.) Jonathan Gold, Los Angeles Times, 3.44 Stars

[via The Daily Meal]