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Michael Bauer Discusses Being a Food Critic on Camera, Wears a Hat

Restaurateurs take note.

Michael Bauer on The New West with Will Hearst
Michael Bauer on The New West with Will Hearst
The New West with Will Hearst

Though he "goes to great pains to remain anonymous, avoids photographs and keeps a low profile," the San Francisco Chronicle's Food Critic and Editor-at-Large Michael Bauer is a pretty well-known face in the SF dining scene.

To cement his decision not to show his face, the critic recently donned a big black hat and some ladies' sunglasses to discuss his 28-year experience as a San Francisco food critic. The critic is featured on a video segment with Will Hearst (chairman of The Hearst Corporation) as part of his series The New West with Will Hearst, discussing ins and outs of criticism and the San Francisco dining landscape.

Here are some of the most salient points from Bauer's 29-minute interview:

  • Bauer visits a restaurant three times before writing a review.
  • Bauer always takes a friend with him, but no more than three people at a time.
  • Bauer eats out every night. Thankfully he is "blessed with a good metabolism and a dog."
  • Also of note, he takes home at least half of the protein from his meal for the dog.
  • To maintain his slim figure, he spends an hour on the treadmill every day.
  • Restaurants only get a month before Bauer makes the first visit.
  • He thinks Zuni Cafe has the best Caesar salad.
  • He describes his style as the "what to eat," Consumer Reports method of criticism.
  • Briefly references the "rumor that he is an investor in certain restaurants," manages to mention those restaurants during the interview.
  • In his reviews, food is the most important component, weighted double against ambiance and service.
  • Bauer loves hearts, livers and brains because his father was a butcher.
  • Mentions Aster, Trestle, Octavia as some of SF's best new restaurants.
Check out the full video here, and keep an eye out for men in hats around town.

San Francisco Chronicle

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