In the case of our reviewers--whether of restaurants, movies, music, books, the arts or politics--I will seek to disclose to our readers their associations when I think they are appropriate to the subject at hand.
This is not to challenge the integrity of our reviewers. Rather, it is to avoid a perception on the part of readers that we might not be objectively critical--it is to trust you to make a judgment, armed with full disclosure of relevant facts.
In an article titled "Valentine Dining" (February 7), food critic Diza Sauers presented "a short list of some of the best bets in town" for romantic dining. Among those was Pastiche. We do not disagree that "Pastiche provides lovers of all sorts with plenty of romantic options," and is a fine place to dine, but we should have informed you that Sauers' husband is a chef there.
In a review headlined "Dumbed Down" (February 14), Sauers wrote that Café Terra Cotta "created a sensation" when it opened in 1986 but has become mediocre. We do not contradict her conclusions about the quality of food and service, but should have disclosed that Sauers' husband was a chef there, having left on bad terms eight years ago.
Sauers acknowledges the difficulties of reviewing restaurants within what she admits is a small, "incestuous" community of restaurant owners, managers and chefs--there are probably fewer than 50 true chefs in Tucson, of which her husband is one.
"I know most of the people involved in our restaurant community in one way or another. . . . to me, this is a working strength: I do have an intimate knowledge about the community I write about," she told me.
"True, at times it poses hardship or requires a judicious sense of diplomacy. I have had to review restaurants of acquaintances where the restaurant wasn't up to snuff or suffered problems, and, as unpleasant as the task was, I had to retain objectivity and turn in a review that was meant to inform the readership," she said.
"Likewise, I have supped in restaurants where I may find a particular chef or business partnership unsavory, but the food is sublime, and, in the end, people read a food column for a recommendation."
We believe that Tucson's finest dining establishments should be subjected to scrutiny. While we might overlook minor failings of a struggling mom-and-pop establishment on the corner, the upscale million-dollar eateries should be held to the highest standards.
We will continue to offer our honest opinions to give readers vital information they can use to make their own value judgments. In the future, that will include disclosure of our writers' pertinent associations. -- Michael Parnell, Editor