How To Become a Food Critic

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: November 28, 2022  •  8 min read  •  Hospitality
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Do you love food? Are you interested in learning about how to become a food critic? This can be a rather interesting and very distinguished career option.

If you like the idea of earning money while dining out, becoming a food critic is probably for you. It’s a very competitive field and requires plenty of hard work. You will need to learn how to become a food critic, so you know the right steps to take.

Before you start down this career path, it’s a good idea to understand the job duties. Let’s look at the duties of a food critic and how you can become one.

How To Become a Food Critic

Job Duties of a Food Critic

It’s common for a food critic to be referred to as a food writer or even a restaurant critic. If you like the idea of becoming a writer or journalist, this might be the career for you.

Most food critics will go from one restaurant to another. They will review the dishes they order and sample for a newspaper, blog, magazine, or website. It’s common for food critics to run their own blogs today.

If you’re new to this field, you might start by submitting unpaid reviews. This will give you some experience, and you’ll get a byline to add to your portfolio. Most new food critics will not only submit unpaid reviews but also create their own website/blog. They may also use social media to drive traffic to their blog.

The best food critics in the world will travel quite a bit. They may go all across the United States or even the entire globe. Their job is to try new dishes and review them.

Some of the best food critics in the field will end up on TV or even get their own show. If you become successful in this field, you will likely write a book.

The career of a food critic is highly sought-after. It’s very competitive, and it takes quite a bit of dedication. If you’re serious about this career path, you will want to understand the steps to becoming a food critic.

How To Become a Food Critic in 6 Steps

Step #1 – Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree

Since there are very few full-time food critic positions out there, you will need a degree. It starts with doing well in high school to get into a good college or university. High SAT or ACT scores can help. Make sure you get a good prep course for the SAT or ACT.

A bachelor’s degree in journalism, English, or communications will be preferred. You will want to take courses in writing, communications, and even in food media or reviewing.

Step #2 – Gain some Journalism Experience

The best way to get some experience in journalism is to write for your school paper or blog. You can start in high school and continue on in college. When you start writing in school, you can gain some pieces to add to your portfolio.

You can also start with online writing. Many websites will pay you to write for them on a variety of topics. You might even be able to gain some food writing experience online while you’re in college.

Step #3 – Take Some Culinary Courses

If you’re serious about becoming a food critic, you need to understand the culinary world. You need to know what makes a good dish, including flavor profiles, ingredients, and food preparation methods.

Without a decent culinary education, you won’t have the skills to truly review food. The right culinary courses will help you to spot dishes not made correctly. You will also gain a better appreciation for a masterfully prepared meal.

Step #4 – Start Independently

It might take decades to land a food critic position for a newspaper or magazine. However, if you start independently with your own blog, you can start reviewing food immediately.

It’s even possible to provide submissions for other websites and magazines as an independent writer. This is the best and easiest way to start writing about food fast.

You want to work on engaging your readers and building a following. Use social media to help gain the necessary traffic to your blog. If you can build a following, you will be in a powerful position to become a food critic.

Step #5 – Never Stop Learning About Food

A food critic is looked at as an expert on food. You want to continually learn and expand your palette. The more you can learn about food, the better you will do as a food critic.

Read reviews from other food writers and consider your own style. Learn from chefs, servers, and restaurant owners whenever possible. Dine out often, and read as much as you can about food from the experts.

While you can certainly take the route of applying for food writing jobs, starting independently will help you build your portfolio. Once you have some experience and published work, you can apply for food writing jobs.

Step #6 – Remain Anonymous

While this is obviously not a required step, it should be for all food critics. Getting recognized is one of the worst things that can happen to a food critic. This can lead to preferential treatment, which means your review of a restaurant won’t be accurate.

Food critics have to keep a very low profile. You have to learn how to go into a restaurant like a normal customer. While you don’t have to write under a pen name or use a fake picture, many will use a pen name to avoid getting recognized.

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Food Critic

How much can I make as a food critic?

There really isn’t any type of salary data available specific to food critics. These are niche journalists. Many food critics will write about more than just food. They may cover other topics and do restaurant reviews as just a part of their job.

To get a better idea of the possible salary, let’s look at a few common salaries for writers.

If you become a journalist, you will earn around $36 per hour. Reporters can earn a salary of around $42K per year, while a staff writer will earn about $39K. Content writers (usually online content writers) earn around $18 per hour, on average.

Your salary as a food critic can range quite a bit. It can be as low as minimum wage and as high as about $75 per hour. If you create your own blog and market it well, you can earn much more.

Will I have to pay for my food as a food critic?

Yes, you will pay for your food in most cases. However, if you work for yourself, you may receive a tax write-off since you will be reviewing the food. Some publications will reimburse you for the meal you paid for after you have submitted your review.

It’s important to understand that food critics need to stay anonymous. Restaurants don’t give out free food to critics. You will receive the same treatment as any other customer to ensure you’re providing an accurate assessment.

What type of schedule will a food critic keep?

Your schedule will depend on your actual position as a food critic. If you work for a publication, it may be different than if you work for yourself.

However, most food critics keep odd hours that may change each week. It will depend on where you are dining that week. Sometimes, you may need to dine early in the day, while other times, you may need to dine late at night.

Along with trying the food, you will need to meet deadlines. This can lead to long hours completing your review. However, many food critics have downtime between each project.

If you work for yourself, you will be able to gain better control over your hours. You can choose how many restaurants you review each week and when you do your writing.

Will I face many challenges as a food critic?

Yes, there are a few significant challenges food critics often face. This type of person is often loved and hated at the same time. Since a big part of the job is providing an honest review, you may not be well-liked if you provide a bad review.

Those that disagree with your review may post negative comments online about you. Food critics may struggle with the comments they receive from those that disagree with them.

Another challenge you will likely face is the competition in this field. Even if you work for yourself by starting a food blog, it’s a highly competitive industry.

Food critics also struggle with remaining anonymous. If you get recognized, you may receive preferential treatment making your review of a restaurant not as good as it could have been. It’s best to go to great lengths to remain anonymous if you want to become a food critic.

Those dreaming about becoming food critics will have to remain dedicated. You want to make sure you work hard to become a food expert. Also, consider working as a freelancer before you look for actual jobs as a food critic.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path.