Montreal’s most-read newspaper, Le Journal de Montréal, may have ditched restaurant reviews from its food and dining line-up.
It’s not entirely clear what’s going on with the tabloid newspaper’s food section, but one thing is for sure: critic Thierry Daraize is no longer a critic with the newspaper. A week ago, he announced via Facebook that he was launching his own website (thierrydaraize.ca) and that he would no longer be reviewing restaurants for the Journal. At this stage, that site doesn’t feature reviews, but rather a mixed bag of culinary content from Daraize, including restaurant tips and recipes.
It doesn’t seem like Daraize was pushed out from the Journal — while he hasn’t published a review since the end of December, his byline has appeared several times alongside cooking stories, including one as recently as last week.
In fact, the newspaper hasn’t published any reviews whatsoever since late December — that’s eight weeks and counting. While it’s possible they’re hiring a new critic, that wouldn’t stop the newspaper from using a substitute in the meantime — in comparison, La Presse regularly puts other staff on critics’ duties when its primary culinary writer is absent. Emails on this question from Eater to some Journal staff and the communications department at Quebecor Media (who own the Journal), have gone unanswered.
It hasn’t gone unnoticed — the Gazette’s Lesley Chesterman pondered the question too, but apparently received no answers.
Daraize’s write-ups weren’t groundbreaking — they used a fairly straightforward rubric of commenting on restaurants’ decor, crowd, food, beverages, and so forth, under neatly delineated subheadings. He was almost uniformly positive too, rarely dipping below giving three stars to a restaurant, and sticking closer to four stars in most cases (out of five). Yet regardless of quality, if nobody else is taking that baton, it’s one less food critic job in town. Among the newspapers, that leaves Chesterman at the Gazette, Jean-Philippe Tastet at Le Devoir, and Marie-Claude Lortie at La Presse (it’s not a newspaper anymore, but close enough). A dying profession, or just an editorial choice from the Journal? It’s anybody’s guess.