The Real Reason Bobby Flay Doesn't Inform Kitchen Staff A Critic Is Dining

If you run a restaurant, the arrival of a food critic is a big deal. Their opinions have the potential to make or break a restaurant, so understandably, owners want to put their best foot forward when there is a critic in the dining room. And while some critics try to conceal their identity in order to receive the most authentic dining experience, those who have been in the restaurant industry long enough tend to know their identities, as well as any of their aliases and disguises, so it's difficult for one to slip by unnoticed.

However, Bobby Flay, a Food Network star, restaurateur, and owner and executive chef of several restaurants, including Amalfi and Gato, recently explained why even though he recognizes many of the big name critics, he no longer alerts his kitchen staff to their presence. "I told no one. I would tell the manager...I want you to walk into the kitchen, pull me aside, and tell me in my ear. Because my staff is cooking really great food," he explained on "Always Hungry," the podcast he co-hosts with his daughter Sophie. "To add the pressure to it, they're going to make mistakes. I don't want them overthinking it." 

Flay doesn't want critics to get special treatment

Flay went on to say on "Always Hungry" that if there's too much attention placed on a critic's presence, "You stop the entire restaurant. No one gets fed but the critic, and that's not good either, because frankly, they know exactly what's going on around them. They can tell if their presence has sent the place into disaster." 

The chef and star of shows like "Beat Bobby Flay" also pointed out that critics can usually tell if they're being treated differently than the other customers. "They're supposed to be speaking, not only for them, they're speaking for everybody. So if they get treated differently, that's something else that could be really not good," he explained, adding that some restaurants have even gotten worse reviews because of the different treatment. 

So while all restaurateurs want to impress the food critics that come in to dine at their restaurants, sometimes focusing too much on the critic's meal can do more harm than good. It seems Flay's best advice for when the critic comes is to simply let the talented chefs do what they do best: prepare a great dish, no matter who it is for.