Out of all the firings carried out Tuesday by the new NOLA Media Group, none has stirred as much national attention as the dismissal of Brett Anderson as The Times-Picayune's food critic. (John Currence, the Oxford, Mississippi-based chef behind the City Grocery Group, summed up the culinary world's reaction pithily: "Nice job, assholes.")
Tonight, Susan Langenhennig, the paper's fashion editor who has been doing double duty as a restaurant columnist for a few months, announced via Twitter she would be moving into the critic's seat at some point this fall.
The position of food critic in a town as restaurant-centric as New Orleans is an important one — important enough that The New York Times' Diners Journal carried an item this afternoon about the role of food criticism within NOLA.com and the thrice-weekly Times-Picayune:
The Times reported on Tuesday that a mass layoff at The Times-Picayune of New Orleans had ensnared Brett Anderson, that paper’s longtime restaurant critic and a nationally known food writer.
But a question lingered: whether the firing meant that the Times-Picayune would join the ranks of newspapers that no longer publish regular restaurant reviews, like The New York Post and The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
In an e-mail, the paper’s editor, Jim Amoss, has responded: “The answer is that we will have substantial coverage of the New Orleans restaurant and food scene, with two full-time writers devoted exclusively to it. Our coverage will include restaurant reviews.”
Diners spotted Anderson eating lunch with Amoss at Lilette on Wednesday. Today Gambit saw Amoss and Anderson enjoying plate lunches together at Mandina's in Mid-City, around the corner from the Gambit offices — so at least we know things are still friendly between the editor and the critic.
Langenhennig has edited The Times-Picayune's WISH glossy shopping supplement for a while, but added restaurants to her beat within the last couple of months. Tonight, on Twitter, she said, "No one can replace @BrettAndersonTP. I will do restaurant features/news at first and reviews eventually," and "It will be awhile before we start reviews."
Gambit has a query out to the paper's other food (and drinks) writer, Todd A. Price. On his own Twitter this evening, Price observed dryly, "Odd how news about TP changes tends to appear first in @nytimes."