Sam Sifton has announced, via Twitter, that he is stepping down from his post as the restaurant critic for the New York Times after just under two years of service. He will soon become the paper's new National Editor.
Rumors of the move, which is part of a sweeping overhaul of the Times masthead by new Executive Editor Jill Abramson, started swirling late last week. Diner's Journal, the food blog for the Times, gives us Abramson official announcement:
Sam Sifton will be our new National editor. From his star runs at Dining and Culture, we all know that Sam is a superb editor who brings infectious energy and a host of original ideas, digital and print, to everything he touches. Correspondents and critics adore him. So who better to fill the shoes of Rick Berke? Sam’s background here isn’t hard news, but we all saw the newsiness and urgency he brought to the Culture report. He takes over a superb desk that flawlessly handles the fastest-breaking and challenging news stories. This will be very sad news to his devoted fans as our brilliant dining critic, but Sam, a lover of regional food, looks forward to dining adventures with the National correspondents. It will be thrilling to watch him apply his editing and writing talents to the National report.
Mere moments after Sifton's announcement, foodies started buzzing about replacement possibilities. Grub Street hears rumors that a replacement is already lined up. When Frank Bruni stepped down from his post, the Times waited almost three months before revealing that Sifton would inherit the job.
HuffPost Food took advantage of the occasion to take a look back at Sifton's two years as critic, highlighting his most scathing and glowing reviews.
UPDATE: Gawker is reporting rumors that Pete Wells, the Times' current Culture Editor, is the heir apparent to the critic job. If they're right, Wells would be the second writer in a row to become the paper's restaurant critic after being its Culture Editor -- Sifton made that same jump. But New York restaurateurs are no doubt praying that Gawker is wrong. Wells briefly took the help as Interim Restaurant Critic in between Bruni and Sifton. His reviews were both authoritative and readable, but they were seen by many as being unduly vitriolic when expressing negative commentary. (He began one review "When three children under age 10 leave their milkshakes almost untouched, you know there’s trouble.") A return to his sharp tongue would certainly make for an exciting Wednesday paper -- but it could also have the potential to make Chodorowgate look like child's play.