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Friday, April 01, 2005

I'm Not A Food Critic, But I Play One On TV

I don't eat out at fine dining establishments very often, but when I do, I eat well.

How well? Very well. Like Michael Bauer well. I eat like Michael Bauer, because, well, sometimes I am Michael Bauer. Or I am Paul Reidinger. If I have a friend of the XX chomosome with me, she is Meredith Brody, or Amanda Berne, or Karola Saekel.

It really depends on the restaurant and where I'm at at the moment. Obviously, you have to engage in a little planning and use common sense when you seek to eat like a professional. Like, you're not going to get away with being Michael Bauer at any of the big name SF restaurants, since most of them already know what he looks like. Using the big names is tricky, but it can often be done at little out-of-the way places that are upwardly mobile, but not in the loop so to speak. For "Michael Bauer", I usually head across the bay or down the peninsula.

Passing as "Paul Reidinger" works well in the Mission, though again, you have to be careful. There are a lot of Guardian readers there who can spot the real from the fake. If you're somewhere, like on vacation, and you're not sure or in a bind, go with the neighboring town's critic. Of course, you can be as gutsy as you want to be because, the last time I checked, impersonating a food critic is not only legal, it's done in the pages of the Chronicle and various dailies everyday. And with the advent and rising popularity of food blogs, the possibilities are endless!

Here's what you do: First, find your mark. Do a little research on it, then google it's name and the name of the critic you wish to impersonate. If nothing turns up, it's safe. Next, call the mark/restaurant and tell them your "name", oh, and try to sound constipated. That always works.

When you walk into the restaurant, remember who you are, or at least who you pretend to be. Judge the style and manner of critic by their reviews, then affect a manner that's likely to reflect them. Since you are making the reservation under your "name", behave like you imagine the critic would behave, but don't go to extremes. The fine art of acting is subtle (insert political pot shot here).

Next, sit back and enjoy your meal. Oh, it's gonna be good! And please, bring along your friends; they deserve to share in your bounty! Besides, friends always provide a good cover, but make sure they are in on it. Get them to play along, if possible. Later, when they complain about feeling guilty, remind them that they weren't wallowing in guilt when they were shoving mushroom-dusted sea scallops down their gullet. They weren't spilling crocodile tears when, already stuffed, they sent the waiter back for more crème brulee. When it comes time to pay (that is, if you have to), pay cash or have your dining partner/s pay. And on your way out, grab a toothpick and bitterly pick your teeth, while lowering your head and looking up, like a beaten dog. Bitch to your friends that you would love to go out later, but you'll be up all night in front of the keyboard.

Once you have your skills, go out and use them. I do. How else is a working-class foodie going to get ahead in this dog-eat-dog-tartar world? Besides, people share names in common all the time! Come on! Do you want to continue to eat like a plebe, or are you willing to eat like you should?

Don't ask me, ask "Michael Bauer".



Blogger drbiggles said...

Sounds like a perfectly reasonable way to get decent service and a good meal, that's fer sure. For less fancy dining, I bring my beast of a camera. This, so far, has given me the same good service and a nice meal, usually with a few items comped. But as you've mentioned before, this is becoming more common every day. So, I don't do it as much as I did a year ago. I don't want to be labeled as "just another one of those food bloggers". I'm in it for fun, when it stops being fun I'm outta there. Is it cool refreshing beverage time?

Senior Biggles

9:45 AM  
Blogger Bacon Press said...

OK, OK...

April Fools!!!!


2:15 PM  
Blogger molly said...

What? April Fools? Dude, Michael Bauer just made reservations for 8 at the Dining Room as the Ritz...

3:15 PM  
Blogger drbiggles said...

Ya know, I always miss April 1st's festivities. At least this time I got to participate, excellent. I didn't realize what day it was until about noon that day. I believe it was when I found Google's new beverage, that's when it hit.

It wasn't until noon I figured out a decent joke, but the moment had passed. I decided maybe next year I'll remember in time.

Congrats on the baking. Baking eludes me, so far.


3:23 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

huh that's too funny!
Except for all the effort food critics go to hide their identities, only the most dumb arse restaurants would fall for it, right?

BTW - I find that taking a charming french man with me whenever i dine out, is enough to get comped all sorts of things. I don't know why, but he seems to be some kind of free drink magnet

10:33 AM  

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