Daily bite: Calgary food critic John Gilchrist announces retirement

The restaurant critic's last review for CBC Eyeopener to air June 29

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After almost 38 years of reviewing restaurants for CBC Calgary, restaurant critic John Gilchrist made this announcement on this morning's Eyeopener program that he would give his final review on June 29.

"Food writing has changed immensely since I started in 1980. Back then, restaurant critics were closeted and unknown and were an extension of the public through the media," says Gilchrist. "Nowadays, there are more media outlets, both professional and social, and much food writing has become an extension of the restaurant industry and its PR departments. Having said that, there are many fine food writers out there. And many great foods and restaurants to write about."

Gilchrist has done many things in his nearly four-decade career. In addition to providing critiques on CBC Radio, he has penned a number of popular books, written for all sorts of publications (local, regional, national and international) and headed up a variety of judging panels for prestigious restaurant awards like the Air Canada enRoute Canada's Best New Restaurants and culinary competitions such as Gold Medal Plates.

Gilchrist was one of the first of the original restaurant reviewers and food writers in Canada to embrace a newer wave of media, always willing to share business insight, tips and tricks.

Despite differences in opinions at times, I have not met many Canadian food writers in my travels who match his vast knowledge of culinary history and Calgary's own restaurant history.

There's no word on what plans CBC has for finding a new critic or replace the weekly segment altogether, but with current lack of critical writing in Canada, as noted by Chris Nuttall-Smith and Alexandra Gill, there is definitely a strong demand here in Alberta.

So, what's the soon-to-be retired critic planning to do with the extra downtime?

"I hope to spend less time in front of a computer and more time in the garden and on the golf course."

All the best, John, and thanks for everything you've done for myself, my colleagues and the Alberta food scene.