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Ruth Reichl: Still a Fan of Anonymity

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(Reichl, left, and New Zealand food writer Lauraine Jacobs at IACP's Opening Reception Wednesday)

So there the Eater PDX contingent was, about to take a picture of IACP keynote speaker Ruth Reichl with recently laid-off Oregonian critic Karen Brooks, when Brooks declined to be in frame - having attempted to remain anonymous while working as a daily critic, she plans to keep that up for now. And since this is a subject that's been kicked around here lately, and Reichl's something of an expert, we whipped out the tape recorder. Needless to say, the woman who became famous for her elaborate, personality-transforming disguises at the New York Times (soon to be a major motion picture?) thinks it's still important for a critic to lay low.

"It makes a huge difference," she says. "You go in, and if they know who you are, they treat you better. There's no question. That hasn't changed."

It may be a different world for people who interview the chefs they write about, or bloggers who give themselves away with cameras. But, Reichl continues, "if you're purporting to tell people what's going to happen to them [at a restaurant], you can't really do it if they're rolling out the red carpet and treating you like God. Which they do."

·Ruth Reichl [official site]
· Previous IACP Coverage [Eater PDX]