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NOT a Spoof: Sam Sifton Named NY Times&#146 New Restaurant Critic UPDATED

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Sam Sifton

From the NY Times‘ Culture Editor to…its RESTAURANT CRITIC?!? I had to rub my eyes and read John Koblin‘s NY Observer article twice. Then I checked my calendar to make sure it wasn’t Apr. 1. This, apparently, is for real, art-lings.

Koblin quotes the staff memo from Times executive editor Bill Keller, regarding the designation of Sam Sifton to succeed Frank Bruni as restaurant critic:

It [Sifton’s appointment] is eccentric because we are stealing one of our finest editors from
one of our most important departments. This is certain to be a cause of
anguish and anxiety in Culture, where Sam has run things with great
skill, imagination, energy and good humor [as well as with “a sugar cube and some ribbons”]….

We’ve set ourselves the task of finding a new Culture Editor….And we expect the anguish and anxiety to be
short-lived.

The career path works more logically the other way around: Raymond Sokolov had progressed from being the Times’ foodie-in-chief to a long, successful stint editing the Wall Street Journal‘s “Leisure & Arts” page. Now he’s back to his first love, writing the occasional WSJ food article and restaurant review.

With the recent news, also reported by Koblin, that the Wall Street Journal is planning to ramp up its New York City cultural coverage to compete with the Times, this should turn out to be a very interesting autumn.

Gee, and I had just discovered yesterday that Sifton is on Twitter (sort of )!

UPDATE: Gawker helpfully posts a variety of restaurant-critic disguises to preserve Sifton’s anonymity when he arrives at his fine-dining destinations. My favorite is the Ruth Madoff disguise (to preclude any favored treatment).

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