Whatever the pandemic does to restaurants, it can’t take away our critics.

It’s basically the best job in the world, right? A food critic gets to go to endless restaurants of their choice, eat what they like and write up their findings for a newspaper (who will foot the bill if the restaurant doesn’t).

And so it follows that the Instagram accounts of your favourite critics will be joyous and uplifting things, illuminated by mouth-watering flat lays and snippets of fun industry gossip.

But, as the pandemic wreaks havoc on hospitality around the world (it is estimated that 30,000 pubs and restaurants in the UK did not reopen after the first lockdown), is the role of the critic under siege?

Besha Rodell, who writes restaurant reviews for The New York Times, says: ‘I’ve always viewed the job of a critic as a consumer advocate to a certain extent. What’s important culturally to be supporting and calling out? What is happening in the scene? I don’t know that, for me, those things will change too much.’ Let’s hope she’s right.

In the meantime, here are the restaurant critics whose accounts will add spice to your Instagram experience. (Warning: these bad boys could make you pretty hungry.)

Jay Rayner

The Instagram feed of The Observer food critic is choc-a-bloc with mouthwatering pictures of restaurant- and home-cooked food alongside many a plug for his (very good) podcast series, Out to Lunch with Jay Rayner. Every now and then a delightful image or clip of Rayner playing jazz on the piano sneaks in, too.

Grace Dent

Dent gives good Instagram. Her stylish feed is witty and glamorous and features fewer shots of food that you might imagine (though the ones that are there are exquisite). The Guardian restaurant critic has a book, Hungry: A Memoir of Wanting More, coming out this autumn. If it’s anything like her Insta offering, it’ll be worth a good peruse.

Fay Maschler

In 1972, Fay Maschler won a competition to become The Evening Standard’s restaurant critic. She’s done the job ever since. Full of culinary and life advice, her Instagram feed befits the grande dame of the restaurant scene. Her tips for surviving lockdown were poignant and amusing. Her recipe suggestions are inspirational. And her holiday snaps are very inviting.

Giles Coren

There is many a string to Giles Coren’s bow, and he showcases them all on Insta. Think gripping glimpses into family life, pretty pictures of restaurant tucker and a hearty helping of Covid rage every now and again.

Gizzi Erskine

If Instagram could have created the perfect food account, it would look something like Gizzi’s. Gizzi in sexy underwear brandishing a mixing bowl? Tick. Her own delicious recipes photographed in her super kitsch home? You bet. Cute shots of her kittens? Absolutely. She is everything we expect of a champion of food in 2020. Don’t miss her latest book, Restore: A Modern Guide to Sustainable Eating.

Marina O’Loughlin

This feed is particularly difficult to look at when you’re hungry. The Sunday Times restaurant critic – who has, in the course of her 20-year career, won several major industry awards – makes every olive, every chip, every cocktail look divine on Instagram. She particularly loves a carb, does O’Loughlin, and somehow manages to make a simple doughnut look stylish.

Tim Hayward

View this post on Instagram

Light, informal Dorset lunch ????

A post shared by Tim Hayward (@timhayward) on

The FT restaurant critic Tim Hayward sure has an eye for design. His Insta feed is like an interiors magazine. He turns a Negroni into a work of art. He recently published a book entitled Loaf Story: A Love Letter to Bread (copies of which feature often in the feed). Reviewing the book, Jeremy Lee said: ‘Hayward illuminates each page with his thoughts and love of food in the most endearing of voices.’ Expect exactly that from his Instagram feed.

By Becky Ladenburg
October 2020

9 One-Tray-Wonder Suppers For Autumn And Winter
Stevie Parle
7 Of The Best Easy Recipes For Making Great Bread

Becky Ladenburg

Features Editor

As the GWG's features editor, Becky has her discerning finger on the cultural pulse. She's also our go-to expert on the property market.