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New SF Chronicle Food Critic Will Publish 5 Reviews at Once This Weekend

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Including of Chez Panisse, Berkeley restaurant royalty

Long-Time San Francisco Newsstand Falls Prey To Economic Hard Times Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The San Francisco Chronicles new food critic Soleil Ho has filed her first review — and her second, third, fourth, and fifth. All are to be published at once in this Sunday’s edition of the local paper of record, Ho and editor Paolo Luchessi announced on the Chronicle’s podcast the Big Event, which aired yesterday.

It’s “like Netflix,” Luchessi joked. “You can binge it.”

Ho even mentioned which restaurants are up for reviews: “Some pretty wonderful Chinese American restaurants,” presumably in a group review, La Folie and its lounge (just when you thought Ho’s predecessor, Michael Bauer, was gone for good), Cambodian hit Nyum Bai in Oakland, and La Calenda, Thomas Keller’s new casual Mexican restaurant in Yountville. There, Ho mentions that she’ll give directions to Yountville by bus, because the critic, previously based in Minneapolis, doesn’t have a drivers license.

Finally, Ho revealed one of the reviews would be of Chez Panisse, Alice Waters’ seminal Berkeley restaurant. “That’ll be interesting, right?” says Ho. To say the least!

If Chronicle readers needed any clues as to whether or not Ho might be beholden to Bay Area orthodoxy or conventional wisdom, she gave one hint on air. The new critic sampled the Bay Area’s beloved novelty treat, an It’s-It, and didn’t seem to enjoy it.

Ho also gave listeners a taste of her humor (already well known to fans of her podcast about race and culture in food, Racist Sandwich). Dairy, she quipped, is “Asian kryptonite.”

While Racist Sandwich recently announced an end to its run, Ho mentioned she’d be starting a new podcast of her own from within the walls of the Chronicle. Stay tuned for that — and Ho’s first reviews this weekend, the anticipation of which has had chefs on pins-and-needles for months.

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