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Observations of a Longtime Restaurant Critic

Frank Cohen is an award-winning, Connecticut-based restaurant critic and food & wine writer of 26 years. He has written thousands of restaurant reviews for more than two dozen media outlets. Here, he provides us with a background on his time spent as a restaurant critic, and how this rare profession came to fruition.

But first, a note on his thoughts about Ridgefield as a foodie destination. "Ridgefield has had a strong scene for years," Cohen said. "I reviewed many restaurants there over the years, but none especially recently. My favorites in Ridgefield were probably The Elm back in the day and The Ridgefield Inn/Bernard’s, but I haven’t had an opportunity to try out its latest incarnation yet, although I’ve heard good things."

His mother was an original Fulbright Fellow fluent in seven languages, who honed her cooking skills by staying with a French countess. "I inherited her passion, preparing elaborate breakfasts in bed for my parents when I was just nine years old," Cohen said.

Eventually, restaurant criticism, the intersection of his twin passions of food and writing, beckoned. "I prided myself on honest but constructive criticism, trying not to disparage unduly the hard work of others," Cohen remarked. "I never sought out bad restaurants, but occasionally they threw themselves under my wheels."

Among career highlights including winning the SPJ award for best leisure writing in a magazine in 2018, Cohen's top achievement was turning the tables and critiquing the restaurant critics of several major cities for an influential national restaurant industry magazine.

Through his work, he always tried to be inconspicuous, even using various pen names to preserve anonymity (Philip Innes and Spencer Caldwell among them), the first a nod to the palate and discernment of his Filipino wife, a supertaster like himself, who exposed Cohen to a different culture, foods, lifestyle, even ways of thinking.

"As a restaurant critic," Cohen declares, "I feel it’s crucial to remain open to all cultures and constantly seek out new experiences and adventures."

Cohen is also the founder of CT Dish, an online platform covering the entire Nutmeg state with the mission to uncover the best dishes in Connecticut restaurants.

"As a restaurant critic, I feel it’s crucial to remain open to all cultures and constantly seek out new experiences and adventures. The world of food is almost infinite."

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