Yesterday one of the Chow Bella contributors asked me what I do if I see another food critic when I'm out at a restaurant I'm reviewing. Should there be some special protocol here? A secret code or handshake or something?
I don't do anything, except maybe spy on them from across the room.
This has happened several times to me over the years, most frequently with Nikki Buchanan (former Phoenix Magazine and New Times critic, who now writes for the Republic). I might've discreetly gone to chat with her if the occasion allowed, but alas, it did not.
I just assume that other writers are trying to be undercover like me, and want to keep a low profile as they concentrate on what they're eating.
For the record, when I'm working on a review, I don't make reservations under my own name, pay for the bill under my own name, or tell anyone at the restaurant who I am. I try to experience the restaurant as everywoman.
At this point, even my own friends know that I might ignore them or pretend not to know them if we unexpectedly see each other at a restaurant. It depends on the situation, of course, but so far they're all quite happy to play along.