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Victor Lewis-Smith


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The more I think about it the more VLS annoys me. He is the newspaper version of Abi Titmuss, a sort of Z list person who for some reason has become a minor celebrity without it ever being clear exactly why (for me he first impinged on my consciousness on the Orb album where he asks a BBC doorman if he's seen Marcus Garvey). Anyway, he's shown no great interest in food to date so why make him a food critic? If he was funny he would have had some success as a comedian by now but he hasn't. Over a decade of trying and failing to be funny is really quite poor.

I can see that we are fast moving to a stage where newspapers will be entirely written by non-journalists with alternative claims to "fame", but one would hope that the Guardian would be able to rise above this general dumbing down. The assumption increasingly seems to be that the public will be more interested in the author than in the subject under review, which is, frankly, daft, as I am the only person I know who ever looks at restaurant reviews.

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'marcus garvey, he's a er black gentleman'

the highlight of his career, shame it was about 15 years ago, i couldnt agree more with the two posts above, if he was actually funny then the column would work.

i hope he reads this forum, maybe we should email him

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So far, I've felt that VLS has been a disappointment - far more interested in himself and a 'witty' story than the food. I wonder about the wisdom of putting a columnist - who is used to commenting on their own life for inspiration - in the position of reviewer. Like Andy said, why can't we have a decent critic?

I'm hoping it's early days and that he'll improve rapidly. I wonder what MF was like when he started reviewing?

In the meantime, the column has become another bit of the paper that I don't read - which is sad because it was one of my favourites.

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So far, I've felt that VLS has been a disappointment - far more interested in himself and a 'witty' story than the food. I wonder about the wisdom of putting a columnist - who is used to commenting on their own life for inspiration - in the position of reviewer. Like Andy said, why can't we have a decent critic?

I'm hoping it's early days and that he'll improve rapidly. I wonder what MF was like when he started reviewing?

In the meantime, the column has become another bit of the paper that I don't read - which is sad because it was one of my favourites.

without wishing to sound nasty...didn't one professional reviewer who posts on egullet recently write a novel about a star chef who tops himself after a bad review? is there scope for a sequel based around a restaurant reviewer who tops himself after reading endless criticism of his own self-centred style? could there be a number of copy cat deaths as AA Gill et al fall prey to the same gruesome end?

VLS appears so smug and convinced of his own intrinsic worth that one suspects he will only be happy when he is forced in true postmodern style to eat himself, perhaps cooked in the style of himself: filet de Victor Lewis-Smith a la mode d'Islington would no doubt fit the bill. Of course, he would also have to cook it himself, which could prove a complication as the man appears wholly lacking in craftsmanship of any sort and may well be handicapped subsequent to said filleting.

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without wishing to sound nasty...didn't one professional reviewer who posts on egullet recently write a novel about a star chef who tops himself after a bad review?  is there scope for a sequel based around a restaurant reviewer who tops himself after reading endless criticism of his own self-centred style?  could there be a number of copy cat deaths as AA Gill et al fall prey to the same gruesome end? 

VLS appears so smug and convinced of his own intrinsic worth that one suspects he will only be happy when he is forced in true postmodern style to eat himself, perhaps cooked in the style of himself: filet de Victor Lewis-Smith a la mode d'Islington would no doubt fit the bill.  Of course, he would also have to cook it himself, which could prove a complication as the man appears wholly lacking in craftsmanship of any sort and may well be handicapped subsequent to said filleting.

:laugh::laugh:

Rereading my comment above, it seems far more aggressive than I meant it. To give VLS some credit, at least he can write well and can write an interesting column. Hopefully he will improve with the reviews.

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without wishing to sound nasty...didn't one professional reviewer who posts on egullet recently write a novel about a star chef who tops himself after a bad review?  is there scope for a sequel based around a restaurant reviewer who tops himself after reading endless criticism of his own self-centred style?  could there be a number of copy cat deaths as AA Gill et al fall prey to the same gruesome end? 

VLS appears so smug and convinced of his own intrinsic worth that one suspects he will only be happy when he is forced in true postmodern style to eat himself, perhaps cooked in the style of himself: filet de Victor Lewis-Smith a la mode d'Islington would no doubt fit the bill.  Of course, he would also have to cook it himself, which could prove a complication as the man appears wholly lacking in craftsmanship of any sort and may well be handicapped subsequent to said filleting.

:laugh: Very nice. (even if you don't read the guardian)

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

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It's a futile exercise to judge a broadsheet critic by criteria such as "How do they review and evaluate the food and the cooking process" as it is not a criterion they set for themselves (nor set for them by their editors.)

The critics' job is to assist in selling newspapers and the approach desired by eGulleteers would be considered far too dry for a mainstream audience. The days of informative critical journalism - like informative television - are long gone. It's about personalities, angles and entertainment.

Jay Rayner has been open and honest aboput this on various threads and yet we continue to condemn a critic (VL-S) who probably fits the mainstream for his role.

One should therefore read them with different expectations. My only gripe is when factual inaccuracies are quoted as part of a condemnation. The restaurant has no come back but a dignified silence. In the on-line age, might it not be more equitable for the broadsheets to offer a 500 word right of reply to restaurants to be posted alongside the offending piece within 7 days of its publication. This would further entertain the audience and keep some of the more imaginative (or under-researched) critics honest.

Edited by Marlyn4k (log)
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While I agree that a critic's job is to sell newspapers I still object to VPL. In his review of Manzes he described a badly cooked pie but told people that "that's how they are supposed to be" and continued to rave about the place. Pies aren't supposed to be

"slightly burnt on the outside and slightly doughy on the inside, to the point that the uninitiated might think that it should have been cooked for longer at a lower temperature. Served with lumpy mashed potato and parsley liquor (a green sauce based on a crude, floury roux), the contrast in flavours and textures is always a winner: ..."

Basically he's picked a place that he likes and has written an ill-informed review about it. People all over the country will now be thinking that "burnt pastry, soggy pastry" is the way to go. I don't ascribe to the omnisicent food reviewer concept, but I do know that many people read the Guardian and his column to find out about food and places to eat and he is being delibertly misleading and wrong.

Suzi Edwards aka "Tarka"

"the only thing larger than her bum is her ego"

Blogito ergo sum

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Did nobody read his columns when he was TV critic in the Evening Standard?

Same shtick (groan-worthy puns, forced irreverence, me-me-me), different target.

I couldn't believe it when I saw that he was the Guardian's new restaurant critic.

May he not last.

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  • 6 months later...

That's a very good question - I wonder if they already have someone lined up or if this happened suddenly and we'll see a few guest reviewers for an interim period. I'd like to read at least one review by Jon Ronson, but other than that, I can't imagine who it will be. Will Matthew Fort make a surprise come back, or will they go for a new, relatively unknown writer.

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I'd like to read at least one review by Jon Ronson...

Maybe something like this:

Nervously, I surveyed the dining room from behind my menu, while pretending to read it. From the moment my editor proposed that I review restaurants, I knew it was a bad idea. Not only am I famously finickity, but I don't like strangers watching while I eat. Perhaps this goes back to my school days, when I got to wear my pudding more often, it seemed, than I ate it. No matter what strategy I adopted to avoid confrontation, the bullies always knew where to find me when the custard was doled out. But I couldn't tell her that. Instead, I fumbled for an excuse, telling her that not only am I Jewish and strictly Kosher, but I'm also vegan. Which is almost true, give or take the odd bacon sandwich.

Reassuringly, the editor offered to accompany me on my first official outing, but where was she now? Not here, that's where. Although the dining room was half empty, no other diners were unaccompanied. No doubt they were all keeping an eye on me and commenting to one another upon my solitude. The head waiter, in particular, kept casting appraising looks in my direction, like he didn't approve of me. He hates me and doesn't want me in his restaurant, I thought. I knew it. I've been stood up by my immediate boss and now I'm about to be humiliated by someone who should be my servant. If only I wasn't so uncomfortable with the concept of service. Oh no, he's coming over.

"Would you like a drink while you're waiting, Sir?" asked the head waiter with a supercilious smirk that completely failed to hide his obvious mirth at my solitary discomfort. "Oh, yes," I managed to squeak. There was a lengthy pause. The HW looked down on me, arching an eyebrow. "Very good, Sir," he said with exaggerated solicitude. "What would you like?" I'd like my lunch companion to arrive right now or, failing that, for the earth to open up and swallow me whole, thus sparing me any further embarrassment. But that's not what he meant. He meant, to drink. It's true my mouth was dry. And my heart was racing. I wondered if there was a convenient window in the Gents and if it was on the ground floor. "Actually," I said, with all the dignity I could muster, "I wonder if you would be so kind as to direct me to the lavatory?"

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