We've been openly speculating/ridiculing who might become the new full-time food critic for the Orange County Register, their first in years and one hired under an audacious experiment to elevate the paper from its troglodytic readership and into the realm of the literary. We figured that the new folks there would blow it, because they already blew it when not hiring one of their young guns from within, when they were desperately courting people via Twitter to apply for the position.
Well, color us dumbfounded: we just found out from well-placed sources familiar with the matter that not only did the Reg not get it wrong, they got it fabulously right. They're going to hire James Beard-winning Brad A. Johnson as their food critic–WHAT THE FUCK?!
Johnson was the longtime food critic for Angeleno (the sister luxury mag to our Riviera), where he earned mucho praise for succinct yet florid reviews not just of the higher strata of Los Angeles restaurants but also the holes-in-the-wall that make modern-day food criticism such a joy to read. He won the Beard in 2008 as Best Restaurant Critic, and won the same award in 2010 for something called the World Food Media Award, which I guess justifies Johnson calling himself the “best food critic in American and worldwide” on his home page.
Whatever–I'll leave the sniping for some other time. He's as great a choice as the Reg could've gotten–experienced yet still with wide eyes. And he does know OC food, having covered restaurants every once in a while for Angeleno. Sources tell us that Johnson is already on the hunt, haunting Chapter One: The Modern Local this week. I put in a message to Johnson; let's see if he responds (he just might, as we share a mutual admiration for each other). Congrats to whoever had a brain cell over at Grand Street for making this fabulous hire. Whoa, maybe this Orange County Register makeover really is legit…BRING IT, CABRONES!!!