That’s the elegant level-headedness of Robert Sietsema, the longtime Village Voice food critic who was fired today, per a Gawker report. He’s the guy who writes about restaurants you’ve never heard of, because they don’t have publicists and they’re not listed on UrbanDaddy. Sietsema goes reviewing in parts of the city where yellow cabs don’t fill the streets, where subways aren’t always close by, in neighborhoods you didn’t know existed, and where English isn’t the first language of either the clientele, the waiters or the owners. He was, and still is, one of our most essential critics.
“His relationships with small restaurant owners not only led directly to the creation of the paper’s annual, sold-out “Choice Eats” event, but his written reviews literally changed the economic fortunes of several hundred small business owners throughout the five boroughs over the past two decades and left an indelible mark on the city’s food culture,” Hugh Merwin eloquently writes for New York Magazine’s Grub Street.
It’s important for us food writers and critics to cover the highly-touted new restaurants in Manhattan and cool parts of Brooklyn, because, well, that’s where people are spending their money, and it’s our job to follow and critique that money trail. Of course, every now and then, with re-reviews, we try to lead our readers off the trail by turning a spotlight on a more forgotton venue, or a venue that’s imporoved over the years.
And while Sietsema covered the big important new joints like the rest of us, his dedication to leading us WAY off the beaten path, outside of our Manhattan-Williamsburg-Carroll Gardens comfort zone, is why he’s so necessary. And with our city’s hospitality industry still getting back on its feet in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, it’s ever more vital that these small “Sietsema restaurants” (if I can call them that) be given their proper due.
I hope we find him writing again soon. New York City needs Sietsema.
Actual, literal, for real, unironic Bloomberg News headline.
We present without comment this quote from Bloomberg Businessweek.
So perhaps there is something to this San Pellegrino list of the so-called “World’s 50 Best Restaurants,” which released its rankings tonight in London. Here’s another fun fact: the number Mexican or South American restaurants on the list EQUALS the number of U.S. restaurants on the list. That’s a strong hat tip to Mexico and the Global South, and it’s especially significant in a world where culinary conversations often revolve around Europe, Japan, and the U.S.
The six restaurants in Mexico or South America are:
We believe that Gustu in Bolivia, which opened this April, will be well-positioned to crack the Top Fifty next year. Also keep in mind that there are a number of South African, Australian, Brazilian and Peruvian spots on the bottom half of the list (51-100). Michelin does not publish guides for restaurants in the Southern Hemisphere.