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NYT food critic’s zero-star rating of Roy Choi’s Locol raises questions about the modern critic




Roy Choi (L) and host Alex Cohen with some of the new foods on the menu at LocoL, Choi's new fast food restaurant opening in the Watts neighborhood on January 18, 2016.
Roy Choi (L) and host Alex Cohen with some of the new foods on the menu at LocoL, Choi's new fast food restaurant opening in the Watts neighborhood on January 18, 2016.
Leo Duran/KPCC

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Locol, the fast food brainchild of chefs Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson, just got a blow from the New York Times’ food critic Pete Wells – a zero-star rating.

Choi responded via Instagram, writing that Locol “hit a nerve,” compelling Wells to write something that “would hurt a community that is already born from a lot of pain and struggle.”

The fast food chain was created with an idealist mission, to bring nutritious food to underserved communities, such as Watts in Los Angeles and Oakland in the Bay area.

Should Wells have taken this mission into account when reviewing Locol? Should he have reviewed it via the context of nearby fast food offerings? What is the role of the food critic in a landscape of food advocacy, superstar chefs and food trucks?

Guests: 

Farley Elliott, Senior Editor, EaterLA; Author, “Los Angeles Street Food” (Arcadia; 2015)

Jonathan Gold, Pulitzer Prize winning restaurant critic for the Los Angeles Times