Readers of ELV: The following letter was sent to KNPR – Nevada Public Radio by a listener. Eating Las Vegas thought you might be interested in its contents and our response.
I recently read “My almost dinner with Andre”, column, posted at www.eatinglv.com by John Curtas, KNPR’s “Food Critic”.
In it, John Curtas brags about spending $19,000 a year in restaurant tabs.
Let’s look at this figure and break it down some.
- 20% of this amount consists of gratuities, leaving $15,833 in gross
- 7.75% of this is tax, leaving $14,694 in net restaurant tab
- Divided by 12 months, this makes it $1,224 per month in restaurant tab or, per week, $282.57.
$287.57! That’s just what one expects to spend on an average check for
food and wine, for two people, at the great majority of fine restaurants in town (The kind Mr. Curtas promotes on his website).
One could conclude that Mr. Curtas either eats out only once a week,
hardly the hallmark of any serious food critic’s research standards, or, eats “freebies”
the rest of the days and thus, looses the objectivity required and expected of a true crtic. Which is it?
John Curtas, a Bona Fide Food Critic? Where is Ruth Reichl, I ask? Enough said.
Dear Mr. Mullis,
Your arithmetic is correct but your methodology is wrong. For every $300 dinner there are 3-5 meals costing between $25-$75. Sometimes, I
cruise by very expensive places and just try two appetizers, or an
entree I missed the first time around — resulting in a much smaller
tab at a place that would ordinarily be at least a couple of hundred
And despite many people’s perceptions, I eat at places like Hedary’s
and Los Tacos more than Joel Robuchon and Guy Savoy. And (with a few exceptions), I always go multiple times to a place before publishing a review.
On average, I eat out at least eight times a week (at 6-8 different
restaurants — usually split equally between lunch and dinner). Plus, I
dine alone, or clients or friends pick up (some of) the check, some of the time.
It’s not a brag, it’s fact that I eat out more than anyone in
Las Vegas — and have done so for the past thirteen years. I challenge you or anyone else to prove otherwise.
I also spend a substantial amount of my own $$$ (about half of my total eating out expenses are paid for by me after taxes — making me possibly the only critic in America who puts his money where his mouth is).
And FYI: I averaged over $30,000/yr. in restaurant expenses from
1999-2005 (after the Bellagio/Mandalay/Venetian/Caesars boom). One year
it was closer to 40k.
Best and bon appetit,
News 88.9 FM KNPR
Nevada Public Radio
CBS Channel 8