" . . . When that happens, and when influencers become primary sources of restaurant information, diners grow confused and distrustful, and restaurateurs are deprived of an incentive to improve—and that can cripple a new dining scene in a city, like Charlotte, that’s straining to establish itself as a place worth dining in. Charlotte’s food scene has boomed along with nearly everything else in the city. Local chefs have garnered James Beard nominations, the Piedmont Culinary Guild has added structure and organization, and initiatives like Soul Food Sessions, the movement to celebrate chefs of color in Charlotte, received national food coverage. The city’s main tourism agency, the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, spent a portion of its $5 million media budget in 2018 to send Charlotte chefs to the James Beard House in New York and, last year, participated in the prestigious Charleston Wine + Food Festival.
So it’s an inopportune time for information about Charlotte dining to decline just as the quality and depth of Charlotte dining improves. Taste can be subjective. But general excellence is something that skilled, honest restaurant critics can gauge, and diners tend to trust the judgment of someone who can help them figure out who has it.
Pay-to-play, Schwab says, poisons the well. 'You can’t need to be liked in this job,' she tells me. 'What is social influencing but the need to be liked?' . . .”
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