I believe that Yelp is probably going to be one of, if not the only source of food criticism.
David Chang, the man behind the Momofuku restaurant empire, has made a public u-turn by positively endorsing the merits of Yelp, the user generated online restaurant review site.
Speaking candidly to Eater the highly succesful Korean-American chef and restaurateur admits to no longer being able to ignore the influence of food and social media accepting that restaurant reviewers aren’t going away: "Instead of bitching about it, which I am fantastic at, why don't I engage them and try to see if something can be a little bit different?” he says.
If actions speak louder than words, this is exactly what the pragmatic chef has done, quite literally turning the tables on his adversaries by inviting Yelp Elite Members to dinner and opening a dialogue. So far he has hosted three such dinners.
A reflective Chang, just short of his 40th birthday and finally comfortable in his own skin, has decided to put past animosity to bed, putting a positive spin on a once "adversarial" relationship.
Whilst he admits that you might not agree with each individual review it would still be a mistake to ignore what is a powerful tool for aggregating opinion, and one which he has used to personal effect to find America's Best Burrito with Nate Silver of Fivethirtyeight.
Famously embracing "ugly delicous" over fine dining his decision to also embrace Yelp would seem to echo his dining philosophy: “Our job isn't to be exclusive and Yelp is literally something everyone uses, why would we be opposed to it?"
Far from getting bogged down in wordy professional critic reviews, of which he is still haunted by memory of Josh Ozersky, he believes the future lies with the majority: “I believe that Yelp is probably going to be one of, if not the only source of food criticism. It's like a Rotten Tomatoes score for restaurants,” he says.
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