Critical Evaluation

Texas restaurant critics blasted in new national rankings — except for one Austin editor

Texas restaurant critics blasted in new rankings — except for one

Austin Photo Set: Tastemaker Judge 2013_Pat Sharpe
Texas Monthly's Pat Sharpe ranked highest of Texas-based critics. Photo by Jessica Pages
Daniel Vaughn at Meat Fight 2014
Though he received nice comments, TM barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn fell 19 spots this year. Photo by Nicholas McWhirter
Austin Photo Set: Tastemaker Judge 2013_Pat Sharpe
Daniel Vaughn at Meat Fight 2014

National food website The Daily Meal has released its annual ranking of the country's most prominent critics and food writers. For the third year in a row, a panel of anonymous chefs ranked 28 critics according to their culinary knowledge, prose style, integrity and with who you'd "like to share a meal." This year, the representatives from Texas ranked poorly overall, with the exception of one Austin-based critic. 

Texas Monthly editor Pat Sharpe came in the highest among the Texas writers at 11. She's followed by former Houstonia critic Robb Walsh at 19, Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn at 21, Houston Chronicle critic Alison Cook at 22 and Dallas Morning News critic Leslie Brenner at 26.

 Patricia Sharpe, TM's well-respected executive editor, did relatively well in the rankings. 

Sharpe was the only Texas-based critic to do relatively well in the rankings, tying for second place in the "prose" category. (Sharpe has previously won a James Beard award for writing and has been featured in Best Food Writing.) TM's well-respected executive editor also tied for 10th in "integrity" and 13th in "culinary knowledge." Said one chef, "The critics’ critic. Very knowledgeable about more than just Texan cuisine, but an expert on food and knows a lot about all types of cooking.”

Sharpe's colleague, TM barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn, didn't fare as well. The Dallas-based Vaughn fell 19 spots this year to come in at No. 21.

Daily Meal executive editor Arthur Bovino tells CultureMap in an email that the survey includes responses from dozens of chefs across America. "We certainly reached out to chefs in Houston, but the state’s city that represented the Texan chef perspective this year most was Dallas," Bovino writes. Two who chose to identify themselves are: Fierce Brenner critic John Tesar of Knife and Brian Zenner of Oak.

Elsewhere, New York Times critic Pete Wells took over the top spot from Jonathan Gold of the Los Angeles Times. Bill Addison, the Eater national critic who published a well-regarded look at the country's 38 most essential restaurants, came in at No. 12.