The Eating Beat: Richard Gorelick, a food reporter’s return

Photo courtesy Gnocco.

What’d I miss?

What’d I miss in the two-plus years since I stopped reviewing restaurants full-time?

Not much. A bunch of new restaurants opened. I want to go to Gnocco. That place looks good. Some new places I don’t think I’ll ever go to, now that I’m not dining on the company dime. I’m surprised how little I care about a place like the Rec Pier Chop House at the Sagamore Pendry Hotel. (I had to Google the restaurant’s name just now, and also its executive chef, Andrew Carmellini).

The only possible reason why anyone would care about the Rec Pier Chop House is because it might say something to an outsider about the state of Baltimore dining. But that’s a bad reason even if it were true. And it’s not true. I promise you that not a living soul outside of Baltimore has an opinion about the dining scene in Baltimore. I think that’s a good thing.

I don’t miss reviewing but I miss reporting on the restaurant industry. I arrived at The Baltimore Sun in a time when the person writing reviews was also the person reporting on the restaurant industry. That was rough, and it didn’t work well. Reporters need access, but access compromises. That compromising position was only one among tons of reasons why I never managed to write good, long articles on the restaurant industry about the following subjects among many:

Sexual harassment in the industry. The only way we would have realistically written about this at The Baltimore Sun was if someone formally charged someone else. I don’t think we would have ever committed resources to developing a longform story on this issue. Of course, everything’s changed now. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that someone at the Sun is pitching this story. And I think the Baltimore Beat will be writing about this. Segregated dining in Baltimore. We actually did talk about this phenomenon at the Sun, but we never got very far. There is a way to report on this, but not one that jibes with the paper’s tidy approach to reporting, which typically involves an over-reliance on expert opinion. Some stories are chaotic and messy and unresolvable. But they need to be told anyway.

Here’s what I really don’t want to write about:

Service: There is an important, ongoing story about the income divide between the back of the house and the front of the house, and how tipping factors into this divide. Otherwise I don’t care about service in restaurants.

Barbecue: I love people who love barbecue, but I don’t enjoy reading about it and really don’t like writing about it.

Dining trends. What is there to say about them? That they exist?

118 Comments
  1. Ok…where’s the rest of the column? It just seemed to end! Perhaps it’s an amuse-bouche? Looking forward to future columns.

  2. I also need to add that the “important, ongoing story about the income divide” is exactly the sort of story that should be told in publications like this. I recently heard an argument from a chef at the back of the house and it is the first time I ever heard this point of view.

  3. Here are my notes from the article, since Gorelick didn’t take the time to compose his thoughts into a coherent narrative, I won’t either.

    This article is embarrassing. I don’t think we should be celebrating ignorance in our culture, not matter what element of our culture we are discussing. Does Mr. Gorelick think it is cute to not know who Andrew Carmellini is? Andrew Carmellini is a taste maker and VERY success restaurateur in New York. NEWS FLASH, RICHARD, HE WAS WORKING IN THE RESTAURANT BUSINESS PRIOR TO 2 YEARS AGO.

    What does this section of the article mean,”Dining trends. What is there to say about them? That they exist?”

    What does it mean for entire culture when the former restaurant reviewer for the Sun says, “… I don’t care about service in restaurants.”

    Was this article edited by a professional? Was it reviewed by a ninth grader?

    If I were Richard Gorelick I would retire, and eat at applebees or the mall food court or somewhere where the concept is so simple or facile that he can fully understand

  4. Welcome back Richard. I know a number of GREAT restaurateurs that appreciate you, and welcome you for a great meal.

  5. Dear Richard,

    I will keep from your article this quote: “I don’t miss reviewing but I miss reporting on the restaurant industry.”

    That’s a good thing because, clearly, you neither know nor care about good food. Plus you display an introverted provincial mentality that wood keep you from appreciating good food even you stumbled upon it.

    It’s also good (and I mean this sincerely) that you choose to cover aspects of dining that most publications won’t touch: class issues, race issues, etc. I look forward to that.

  6. The Shitting Beat: Anonymous, a Review Reviewer’s Return:

    Vacuous writing. I think readers would like to hear more about Gnocco. Regardless of whether I agree with the tone of the article, the fact that “Gnocco” is tagged suggests the article, in some way, talks about Gnocco.
    So, is it saying something that a food reviewer actually wants to go to a restaurant like Gnocco? Apparently. Is it suggesting that words can’t describe the experience of Gnocco? Or, that the pseudo-reviewer is too lazy to provide even the vaguest description of the cuisine? We’ll never know. But I’m okay with that. Maybe this newspaper won’t turn out to be complete trash. But then I remember City Paper. Alas, since Gnocco is not a barbecue restaurant, would not it merit discussion?

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