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Anonymity no big loss, say restaurant critics

13 April 2006

Two of Britain's leading restaurant critics have denied that their anonymity is essential in order for them to review food fairly.

Charles Campion of the London Evening Standard and Giles Coren of the Times said it was irrelevant whether they were recognised. Both critics spoke out following a decision by some New York restaurateurs to "out" critics, whose identity has traditionally remained a secret, with photographs.

"Being recognised doesn't make a blind bit of difference," said Campion. "If everyone knows who you are, that creates a level playing field."

Coren said: "I get clocked about half the time, but that's maybe because I'm 20 years younger than other critics and dress like crap. AA Gill wears hand-made suits and drives a Rolls-Royce. People know him but it doesn't matter."

He added that being identified can be a hindrance. "Restaurants shoot themselves in the foot when every single fucker asks you if you're enjoying yourself," he said. "And your food can take longer if the chef is constantly sending it back to get it right."

However, Jan Moir, restaurant critic at the Daily Telegraph, said arguing that anonymity doesn't make any difference was "nonsense".

"Sometimes I'm recognised, most times I'm not, but when I am, it's as if I've suddenly been upgraded from goat class to first class," she said. "Better table, better service from better staff and, yes, the food will be improved. No one's saying the kitchen will send out Wagyu instead of rump steak, but more attention will be paid to your dish and to you."

By Tom Bill

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