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Beware, the restaurant critic

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Uninvited and anonymous, they may wield the power to make or break a restaurant with the stroke of a pen. Disguised to maintain her anonymity, in this 1980 clip from CBC Television's Kowalski/Loeb Report Globe and Mail restaurant critic Joanne Kates declares that although her reviews are "brutally honest" she doesn't believe her words have the power to close a place. The critic for the Toronto Star, Jim White, plays it more cautiously, saying he always holds a review for two days to give himself a chance to reflect on whether he's really been judicious. Either way, chefs and restaurateurs claim these stealth diners rarely have the credentials to back their clout, while readers say they take it all with a grain of salt.
• Joanne Kates remains one of the foremost restaurant critics in Canada. Since the early 1970s, her regular column in the Globe and Mail has tracked the gastronomic ebb and flow of the Toronto restaurant scene. Her books include The Joanne Kates Cookbook, Exploring Algonquin Park and The Joanne Kates Toronto Restaurant Guide. Before she took up her post at the Globe, Kates worked briefly in the kitchen of the Windsor Arms Hotel's legendary restaurant, Three Small Rooms, and trained at the Cordon Bleu school in Paris, France.

  • Jim White wrote restaurant reviews for the Toronto Star for five years. In 1984 he left the Star to head up editorial activities at Loblaws, including work on developing a new line of grocery products for the supermarket chain. A pioneer alongside Dave Nichols, White coined the name for the new brand, President's Choice, which went on to become one of the most popular labels in Canada. White continues to develop private label products, including most recently a line of flatbreads and muffins available across Canada and the U.S. Today he lives in the Napa Valley, California, where he helped create the Manifesto! brand of wine.

Medium: Television
Program: The Kowalski/Loeb Report
Broadcast Date: Feb. 28, 1980
Guest(s): Audrey Burns, Jeff Burns, Schwalbe Gaston, Joanne Kates, Jim White, Jerry Wiseblatt
Host: Naomi Loeb, Henry Kowalski
Duration: 10:33

Last updated: April 10, 2014

Page consulted on April 10, 2014

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