The New York Times has appointed its first ever California food critic: Times food reporter and columnist Tejal Rao, a James Beard award-winning writer, will relocate to the Golden State to take the job.
With Rao’s appointment, the Times is pouncing on a sudden critical vacuum in California food: San Francisco Chronicle critic Michael Bauer announced his departure from the role after more than 30 years last month, and Jonathan Gold, the celebrated Los Angeles Times food critic, died unexpectedly of cancer several weeks ago. He was 57.
The Times, meanwhile, has established a questionable local reputation for its forays into California food criticism, with fly-over pans of restaurants like Oakland’s erstwhile Locol. However, the publication has sought a stronger foothold in California, publishing new sections like its California Today effort.
As writes the Times’ Sam Sifton:
The Times now has more regular readers in California than it does in any other state save New York, along with more restaurants to serve them — roughly 72,000, give or take a few In-N-Outs. These establishments represent an incredible diversity of cultures and cuisines.
In addition to criticism, newly appointed California writer Rao will grace the region with features and reporting. On Twitter, she’s already thrilling to the upcoming role:
thanks so much to everyone sending along kind words and perfect gifs today! I lived in california before I lived in new york and I am THRILLED to go back— Tejal Rao (@tejalrao) August 10, 2018