NY Times Hires First California Restaurant Critic

Tejal Rao (Source: Twitter)

The New York Times is one of the nation’s largest newspapers and based in New York City. The venerable paper just announced it will hire its first-ever restaurant critic for the state of California.

Tejal Rao, a food reporter and columnist for the Eat section in the NY Times magazine, has been promoted to restaurant critic for the Golden State. Sam Sifton, Food Editor for The NY Times, made the announcement below on the company blog:

I am delighted to announce the appointment of Tejal Rao as The Times’s first California restaurant critic. Tejal will review restaurants and write about food and food culture in every corner of the nation’s most populous state, at places both fancy and not, wherever people gather to exchange money for food.

It is a perfect beat for Tejal, whose deep curiosity, beautiful prose and passion for the delicious have informed her work as a food reporter for The Times and as an Eat columnist for The Times Magazine these last two years. But Tejal knows from criticism. She was, before coming to The Times, the restaurant critic at Bloomberg News and before that at the Village Voice, postings that brought her two James Beard Awards for restaurant criticism.

And now she heads west with good reason. The Times now has more regular readers in California than it does in any other state save New York, along with more restaurants to serve them — roughly 72,000, give or take a few In-N-Outs. These establishments represent an incredible diversity of cultures and cuisines. That is an irresistible combination platter for a news organization like ours, one devoted to helping readers understand the world in which they live. Close and critical coverage of restaurants can after all be a way to explore how we live and what matters to us wherever we stand on the socioeconomic ladder, across cultures and into their delicious commingling. It can also tell us where to find what we like to eat, or to find what we will like to eat, once we’ve eaten it.