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New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells

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"I believe that without professional critics like him and others to point out what was new and delicious, chefs would not be smiling at us from magazine covers, subway ads and billboards. They would not be invited to the White House, except perhaps for job interviews. Claiborne and his successors told Americans that restaurants mattered. That was an eccentric opinion a half-century ago. It's not any more."

New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells, writing recently about that paper's first restaurant critic, the late Craig Claiborne, on the 50th anniversary of Claiborne's first "Directory to Dining" column.

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