|Michael Negrant's last Sun-Times review of Flour & Stone|
Another one bites the dust. Michael Negrant, the restaurant critic for Sun-Times since 2011 and dining critic for CS magazine, announced his termination via Twitter in the most dramatic of way. Dramatic for an anonymous food critic, that is. He revealed his identity by posting his picture with a tweet that read, “So this is what an ex-Chicago food critic looks like...” This news does not come as the biggest surprise. Earlier this year, the newspaper eliminated the food section in favor of a sponsored pullout called Taste. Negrant’s reviews temporarily dodged the bullet because they appeared three times a month in the weekend entertainment section.
If it is true that bad news comes in threes, Chicago is due to lose another print critic before the end of the year. Just last month, Time Out Chicago’s food and drink editor and restaurant critic David Tamarkin resigned when the company was sold back to Time Out Group. Will longtime Chicago Tribune critic Phil Vittel be next or witty Reader critic Mike Sula? Likely not, but either way, the face of the food media is changing as it shifts from print features to user-friendly online content. We obviously can’t deny our involvement in this change, but are well aware that a blog or website is not the same as a critical review or well-research story.
Negrant’s departure unfolded on Twitter as he wrote, “The worst kind of sadness is the one so deep and unexpected, you don't even know what to do with it.” His nearly 6,000 followers expressed their condolences, wished him luck and speculated that he would find new work soon (writing was a part-time gig for Negrant, who also works as a E-commerce consultant). Here’s the thing about that shift, it means more content written by fewer writers. Jobs are scarce as the print industry continues its slow death. We, too, wish Negrant the best of luck in his future endeavors and hope to read his words again soon. We wish this not only for the sake of Negrant, but also for the Chicago food industry.