Putting a face to the name: Star Tribune restaurant critic reveals his true identity


A Star Tribune restaurant critic has become the latest in his field to reveal his not-so-secret identity.

After 16 years, Star Tribune readers finally got to see what Rick Nelson looks like – something those in the local restaurant business have known for some time, which is one reason why he finally decided to show his face, Nelson explained in a story published in Sunday's paper.

"Realistically, the only people incapable of pulling me out of a lineup are Star Tribune readers," Nelson wrote.

It's a move many restaurant critics at major news outlets have made in recent years. The Los Angeles Times' Jonathan Gold ditched his avatar earlier this year – all because his secret identity was anything but that, the newspaper said.

Last year, Leslie Brenner with The Dallas Morning News revealed her face after six years writing hundreds of reviews. She explained to NBC 5 that the age of restaurant critics being anonymous has been over for awhile, especially in the age of Twitter and Facebook when someone can snap a photo outing your identity for all the other restaurants to see.

Many critics have hoped to keep their identity a secret in order to avoid special treatment from the restaurant, critic Kathryn Robinson wrote in the SeattleMet. Efforts include making reservations under fake names, paying with cash or credit cards issued in phony names, and calling from phones that aren't associated to them.

For Nelson, not much will be changing in the way he reviews restaurants – except now his identity is out in the open. He wrote in the Star Tribune that he has learned the cooking at the restaurant isn't going to "turn on a dime" because he's there, but he does note the service may improve, which he will remain watchful of.

He says he'll continue to arrive unannounced to restaurants, making the reservations under his guests' names so the chef cannot prepare for his arrival. He vows that he won't take free meals, attend restaurant-related events or schmooze, all guidelines put in place by the Association of Food Journalists.

And lastly, he made the "solemn promise" to never take a selfie. Ever.

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