Eating Out

The Genuine Critics?

I often read eatery reviews, from slop joints to the ocassional Four Stars awarded by the NYT and others. Fun reading, to be sure. That said, what job could be more difficult? A demanding schedule, the fight for reservations, keeping accurate notes, multiple visits and doing one's very honest best to remain objective. An awsome responsibility.
I take much of this from the NYT reviewers, currently the the able plate of Sam Sifton.
Some questions that I've asked (and that the NYT won't answer);
1. How on earth does Sam manage to remain "Under Cover" as he makes is visits?
2. An effective reviewer generally dines with a party, typically four, perhaps more and there is a whole lot of bite and plate sharing. How do they disguize this?
3. Most of the published NYT reviews include 6-10 great pictures. How do they get them, without giving away their purpose/ Casual diners do not photograph the house and every plate served! Get a grip! Even independant SE contributors cannot get away with this one!
4. Think a bit before responding here... The NYT editors refuse to respond to this pointed question: How much $$$ does NYT allocate for Mr. Sifton's annual or monthly dining budget? (it must be substantail, sunce he visits multiple times and usually hosts a modest group.
5. Perhaps redundant, but how on earth does he (do they) keep their primary purpose hidden from the staff?

I'd love to hear from those who really know. If you are guessing, please say so. Thanks!

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