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The Food Critic Recipe


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Over the past several months I’ve been following a legal battle blossoming between Craig LaBan, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s food critic and Chops restaurant owner, Alex Plotkin. It seems Mr. Plotkin took great exception to LaBan calling his steak frites a “miserably tough and fatty strip steak”. Mr. Plotkin asserted that the review hurt is business and LaBan wasn’t given the strip steak to begin with. Rather he was given a lesser cut normally served for lunch, versus dinner. A “steak sandwich without the bread”.

Mr. LaBan apparently is being sued for this, his description of the strip steak, and for not correcting which cut of meat he ate. LaBan asserts his waiter confirmed that his steak was a skirt steak. His dining companions corroborate this.

To my point here, the story about this case was run in this month’s issue of Philadelphia magazine complete with a photo of LaBan. The magazine's editor, not deferring to Mr. LaBan’s professional need for anonymity, feels LaBan is not above anyone else just because “the guy eats meals and writes about them”.

So, how much credibility and therefore reliability is lost when a food critic’s photo is run very publicly? Obviously the critic’s ethics, palate, objectivity and writing skills are not altered. But, does this basically make the critic an ineffective barometer for a restaurant’s food and performance? In other words, does taking anonymity out of the food critic recipe cause the end result to fall flat?

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