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Joanne Kates to leave the Globe after 38 years (UPDATED)

If the Twitterverse is to be believed (and no less a figure than Shinan Govani has confirmed it, so it must be true, right?), Joanne Kates, the long-time Globe and Mail restaurant critic, will publish her last review in the paper this Saturday. As NOW’s Joshua Errett notes, the perennial Scaramouche lover was a prominent practitioner of the old-time hat-over-the-eyes school of criticism, although like most critics she didn’t entirely manage to keep her likeness under wraps. No word yet on who might replace her, or which restaurant will receive the honour of her final bit of praise or skewering.

UPDATE: We recently heard from Kates, who told us in an email, “38 years was a great run—and long enough. I didn’t need the grind of a weekly column any more.” As for what’s next for her, she noted that her “voice will not be silent.” Case in point: her iOS app.

Kevin Siu, the executive editor of features at the Globe, told the Dish that Kates’ last review will indeed run this Saturday, followed next Saturday by a column reflecting on her nearly four decades reviewing Toronto restaurants (her first Globe column has been scanned and uploaded). “She’s been the defining voice in Toronto dining for a long time,” Siu said, “and we do look forward to continuing to work with her.” The paper’s new critic will be announced on Tuesday, followed by an online chat between the two critics on May 28.

UPDATE (May 22 @ 2:30 p.m.): The Globe has announced that Chris Nuttall-Smith will be its new food critic.

  • BG011

    Good bye Jokeanne Kates

  • mattagascar

    She literally destroyed one of Toronto’s best (and little known) restaurants back in the late 90′s (Idefix Cafe) with a childish review. I guess the fact that many of the top chefs at the time frequented the place meant nothing. What a hack. I’m soooo sorry if writing a weekly column about chefs who work their asses off was a burden to you. You wouldn’t last a minute in their shoes.

  • soos her lees

    They should have replaced her 20 years ago. That’s all I have to say on this subject.

  • bobo79

    I like Joanne Kates’ reviews. She values service and atmosphere as well as food and speaks to the whole experience of dining out rather than just the dishes. I have found some of her reviews to be off-side (the one where she suggested that the recently deceased owner of La Fenice would be rolling in his grave at his widow’s solo-endeavors to continue on with the restaurant was presumptuous, offensive and appalling on a number of levels and I will never forget that one- who does she think she is?…) but for the most part, she contributed positively to Toronto’s culinary scene and as a customer, I am grateful for her thorough and knowledgeable reviews.

  • George

    Joanne was a good critic, sometimes a little fussy-Duddy though.
    As for replacement I really hope it is not Chris Nuttal-Smith. He is so negatives out people and does not get the basics of food

  • Debra McLellan

    Kates’is knowlegable and worth reading, if you can manage to wade through her irritating writing style. I ususally skipped through her wordy intros and tried to get to the meat of the review.

  • Rob

    This is a great day for the Toronto restaurant scene. She hasn’t added a thing to Toronto’s dining culture in twenty years.

  • JJT

    James Chatto??????

  • Lacey P

    I hope to God it’s not Chris Nuttal-Smith. He’s destroyed food reviewing in Toronto. The hipster-driven era of restaurant reviews has to end and a serious, non-biased reviewer has to come in and asses establishments solely on food and service and not the colour of walls or whether the decor was to their personal preference. Kates was good but seriously needed to retire. Insults and jabs at people’s livelihoods are not the role of a food critic. Reviewing food and service is. It’s time for Toronto to step up and set a standard. Let’s hope Pataki, Mallet and the others get wind of the change and follow the path of world-class food-cultured cities out there. Goodbye Kates. Stay retired.

  • BringBackJames

    There are far worse reviewers out there than Kates. Just read some of the wordy wiseguys on Chowhound. They all think they’re better than Kates but none of them could ever get a job reviewing professionally, let alone last 30 years without getting fired. Some of them must use their Chowhound membership as extortion to get favorable treatment at restaurants, and there’s one in particular I have in mind. You can easily figure out who I’m referring to (hint: can’t spell the word “palate” if his life depended on it). Bring back James Chatto!

  • soos her lees

    to “BringBackJames” I have no idea who you are referring to on Chowhound, but it doesn’t really matter. Have yopu not figured out that 95% of the posrt on CH are about where to get the best burger, find pickled peppers, or shrimp chips? That’s not exactly fine dining. And all the Chowhound dummies think they are experts on everthing, when in fact most know very little about food. So don’t worry about the people who post on Chowhound as they are insignificant.

  • BringBackJames

    I think you know full well who I am referring to. Probably the guy you see in the mirror!

  • John Firth

    No one beats Joanne Kates at savaging pretentious, hipper-than-thou restaurants that charge $250 for dinner for two and deliver mediocre food with appallingly bad service. Those places need to be driven out of business, and Kates was just the person to do it. She’ll be missed.

  • Selby

    Its a mark of Kates ability that after all those years she was still able to rate an argument about her leaving. As for CH where does the name ChowHound suggest it is a centre of/for fine dining? Good to see that even its critics are keeping up on the topics.

  • Yes

    She will not be missed. Yawn.

  • soos her lees

    to BBJ: no it’s not the guy I see in the mirror, as I don’t post on Chowhound. And I don’t have any idea who you are referring to.

  • Nicola

    To my favorite restaurant reviewer who I had always looked forward to reading in each weekend addition of the Globe. My early days as a cook were influenced by her observations and insights into each chef she reviewed. Critics are here to keep us all on our toes from becoming to complacent at times and the challenge
    was met by most a chef who opened a restaurant in Toronto over the years.

    I only wish I had the opportunity to read such a review on my own food at the time. Unfortunately that will not happen, but! I honestly feel content to just be that cook once again in the background comfortable knowing that there is no other reviewer whom I could take with the same sentiment as Ms Joanne Kates.

    Congrats on an incredible run, and thanks for helping me raise the bar of being a chef in Toronto.

  • Wendy Davis – Zebrano

    I liked her reviews overall. She had a point that a hip and happening restaurant needed good service or she trashed them. I read the Globe restaurant reviews every week and love to try new restaurants. Who will take her place? Interested to get another perspective on Toronto’s restaurant scene.

  • Gregoryph

    Kates will be missed. Great column – some might not like her, but she kept the scene honest!

  • Moderate

    I remember her one word review for Lock Stock and Bagel in Hazelton Lanes: feh!

  • Kate

    I enjoyed her article every week. Our family will miss her!

  • Methinks

    Only the extremely ridiculous name-dropping foodies will miss her unseasoned tripe. Any way you cut it, these celebrated freebie snatchers are purely ruinous to new eateries. I never understood why she was so heralded: “oh, well, if Joanne Kates says it good…blah, blah, blah…”

    I wonder if she knows how to boil water…

  • BringBackJames

    To “soos her lees”:

    Palate = part of the mouth
    Palette = a selection of colours

    The person I’m talking about, gets those switched.

  • BringBackJames

    To all the haters:

    If a restaurant gives a well-known reviewer like Joanne Kates a bad experience, be it bad food or rude service, how do you think those restaurants treat regular “joe schmoes”? That’s why we trust her reviews.

    I don’t care if a restaurant is new, old, hip, whatever. That’s no excuse. Treat the customer right or you shouldn’t be in business. Kates was simply spreading the word about which restaurants failed to do this. That was her job and she did it well. And that’s why she’ll be missed.

  • Chris

    Joanne Kates has consistently failed to review restaurants with any measured objectivity throughout her career. Her reviews frequently include personal attacks on the chef et al. A reviewer should always consider what they are reviewing and keep their comments focused on service and food. One cannot review Burger King with the same criteria as Eigensinn Farm yet she does. The result might make for entertaining reading but is ultimately useless to the dining-out public.

  • Chris Macdonald

    Her pedigree as a food reviewer lay in her experience at Cordon Bleu which is a cooking school for housewives.

  • LArry

    Never read or cared to read what she had to say. I was in Pusateri’s a while back and she was there repeatedly announcing herself in a loud obnoxious voice to everyone in earshot. UGh.

  • Alex

    Joanne Kates is not a nice person – elitist snob rubbing her nose down on hard working people trying to make a living.