Food Court

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In which Food52's News Editors Shelly & Fran pass judgment on the week's top food news.


• Winner: New York Times food writers 

This week, Sam Sifton parlayed his two-year stint as the Times’s restaurant critic into a top job: the paper’s national editor. Sifton isn’t the first Timesian to use food-writing as a springboard to bigger things. Both Mark Bittman, whose The Minimalist column inspired cookbooks and a massive fan base, and Frank Bruni (Sifton’s predecessor in the critic’s chair) now write columns for the paper’s Op-Ed page.


• Loser: Non-NYT restaurant critics

The Chicago Sun-Times summarily dumped its restaurant critic of nearly three decades this week, citing budget cuts (natch). Veteran Pat Bruno may be one of the last of a type, as the job of restaurant critic becomes increasingly more transient. Few journalists stay in the job for decades, à la Ruth Reichl, Mimi Sheraton and Craig Claiborne. Instead, a revolving door at the restaurant-critic's desk -- not to mention the amateur critics Yelp-ing away -- may mean critics in general have less power to make or break a fledgling eatery.


• Winner: Gluten-free eaters (and tennis lovers) everywhere

When Serbia's Novak Djokovic won the U.S. Open men's singles title for the first time Monday, he struck a resounding blow for the many Americans who now shun gluten. Since going gluten-free more than a year ago, Djokovic has blown past rivals Rafael Nadal (whom he defeated Monday) and Roger Federer with seeming ease and inspired several other tennis players -- and, very likely, many more Americans -- to follow suit. 


• Loser: Pretty much all of us

Americans eat 42 pounds of corn syrup each year, which doesn't make us sound like the healthiest people on the planet. We're glad to see more than 400 pounds of veggies on that graphic, but 200 pounds of meat annually seems a little scary. With news like this, can we even feign surprise that a man is suing White Castle because he can't fit into the chain's booths? At least one Brit wants to give Americans a run for their (chubby) money. Steve Magee made gastronomic history this week when he became the first patron ever to finish The Big One, a gut-busting, 7,500-calorie English breakfast at the Hungry Hossee Cafe in Northamptonshire. Was the trophy shaped like a cardiac catheter? 


• Hung Jury: Redesigned Easy-Bake Oven

This week saw the unveiling of Hasbro's spanking-new version of the age-old Easy-Bake, this time without its iconic (some might say burdensome?) light bulb. There's a lot of nostalgia out there for the bulb-y Easy-Bake, so this might be a tough sell. On the other hand, kids do love a groovy new gadget. And on another hand entirely (how many hands do we have???), why don't kids just bake with REAL ingredients in a REAL oven?


• Winner: Anthony Bourdain (yet again)

This guy might deserve some sort of lifetime achievement award, in that he has been featured in two thirds of Food Court's postings (it's because we're new, not partial). Fresh off his bare-knuckle takedown of Paula Deen, Bourdain this week scored a publishing coup. In a fairly rare move, Ecco -- an imprint of Harper Collins -- announced it would give Bourdain his own line of books. We can't help but wonder how the world might look different if Bourdain were to publish the next Deen tome.