Who Should Be the Orange County Register's New Restaurant Critic?

Who Should Be the Orange County Register's New Restaurant Critic?

People sometimes wonder why I follow the editors' Twitter accounts when they tend to be full of promotions of their papers' own links. The picture to the right (click to enlarge) is why.

It's no secret that the Orange County Register's new benevolent overlord publisher, Aaron Kushner, is a print guy. He's not a huge fan of online content, and he's even less a fan of free online content. Rumors are circulating about the future of blogging at the Register, about reassignment of bloggers back into the reporting pool, and blog stories no longer being promoted to the front page.

Kushner wants to revitalize the Register's generally execrable, incomplete food coverage--and, to borrow Gustavo's phrasing, that's a good thing. He wants to hire a "world-class" restaurant critic, whatever that means. To that end, Rebecca Allen, the editor in charge of the food coverage, tweeted what amounts to a public job offer to Francis Lam, Top Chef Masters 4 judge and Gilt Taste writer.

Best of luck landing him and convincing him to move away from his budding television career and the New York restaurant scene, Rebecca. It'd actually be great if she managed: the Register had an amazing food section once upon a time; the scattershot coverage they have now includes a few gems spread through a raft of rehashed press releases, fast food menu "scoops", and secondhand food reviews that belie the unbelievably rich makeup of Orange County's food scene. Most of that paper's food coverage could be published as 140-character Tweets.

Of course, all of this ignores that Kushner already has at his disposal someone who already knows OC, who is the best food writer on Grand Avenue (when Edwin's not eating at Bangkok Taste, anyway), and who actually ventures into OC's ethnic enclaves as often as she goes wining and dining in Laguna Beach. Claudia Koerner, who takes her turn writing the print reviews and writes several times a week for the Food Frenzy blog, seems like the obvious choice here, despite her youth--if you can't buy the writer you want, build the writer you want.

However, let's not let that reality mar our pie-in-the-sky dreams: assuming that Don Aarón has an all-access wallet and can hire whomever he wants, who'd be the most worthy competition for your friendly Forkers? Sam Sifton, are you reading this? Ruth Reichl, don't you want to move to Newport Beach? What say you, Mr. Gold?

Leave your suggestions in the comments!

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