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Michael Bauer Retires as SF Chronicle’s Food Critic After 32 Years

His last review will run later this summer

Michael Bauer
Bauer in disguise
The New West

After 32 years of making (and breaking) the San Francisco food scene, critic Michael Bauer is finally ceding his throne. According to the Chronicle, the critic’s final review will run later this summer in the Food and Home section. A national search for a replacement critic has already begun.

“During his three decades at The Chronicle, he helped shape the image of what is now regarded as the country’s premier fine-dining destination,” wrote staff writer Justin Phillips of the critic’s departure. That’s long been a sticking point for restaurateurs and chefs who felt constrained or required to cook for the critic’s palates.

But, Bauer not only inadvertently provided meaty content for other publications, but did work to amplify the work of Bay Area restaurants. He served for years as the executive food and wine editor, launching the standalone wine section in 2002. He also launched Inside Scoop, an early competitor for Eater SF; it was headed by founding Eater SF editor Paolo Lucchesi, now the Food Editor of the Food and Home section.

His lengthy tenure was not without controversy: Recently he chose to include men credibly accused of sexual harassment as part of his annual Top 100 list. Read here for a full rundown of Bauer’s other accomplishments.

As for the paper’s search for a new critic, Lucchesi writes “It’s impossible to fully replace someone like Michael Bauer, who for decades has helped define and examine Bay Area food culture. So we’re not going to try to find his replacement. But we do want to find the next leader in restaurant criticism.”

Stay tuned for more details on what Bauer will do next, and who may take his spot as the SF Chronicle critic.