This week Michael Bauer is marking 30 years at the Chronicle, where he's served as food editor and restaurant critic since 1986 after moving the Bay Area from Dallas. As part of his anniversary celebration, the paper just put up this cool feature you can scroll through in which Bauer reflects on the most important restaurants to come along in each of the 30 years he's been critic. Notably, when there is much talk in the food world about the dearth of female executive chefs, women were at the helm of three of the big restaurants in Bauer's first years in town: Judy Rodgers, who took over Zuni Cafe in 1987; Nancy Oakes who "took American food to a new level" at L'Avenue in 1988; and Suzette Gresham who opened Acquerello in 1989.
Mr. Bauer also reflects on bygone trends and weird missteps dessert sushi, anyone? and says that he only ever intended to work for the paper for five years, but then five became 10, and 10 became 30 at "warp speed."
And, as is sometimes the case, he makes some controversial choices in declaring the most "important" restaurants of the last several years for 2009, for instance, he says it was Nopalito, with Saison merely a runner-up. And while he says that 2010 was definitely the best year of his time as critic, he declares Benu was the restaurant of that year, despite his love for Cotogna, Commonwealth, Mission Chinese Food, and Bar Agricole.
The Chron made a little review box for Bauer himself, giving his opinions four stars, and saying his anonymity at this point is, admittedly, at two and a half. And would you believe he's written 5,320 reviews? That's about three per week, even though these days he only writes two per week.