There are many paths to become a food critic, but there are two elements that are always involved, loving food (and usually wine) and loving writing. Though some people might be able to review restaurants in spoken form, most people will need to write and write well about the foods they try. Exactly how people arrive at expertise in writing and in food knowledge can be different and perhaps no two critics are alike in this respect.
Both subjects tend to take study or experience, and it’s highly recommended people focus on learning how to write well first. They could do this as either journalism or literature majors in college. Journalism may be more practical since a lot of critics write for newspapers or magazines.
The phrase “write what you know,” means that people must develop understanding about food: how to taste it, how it’s made, when it varies from traditional recipes. Knowing how restaurants work is equally vital, since food reviews of restaurants will include assessment of ambience, organization and service. It’s a good idea to read the work of other food critics, especially some of the classic work by writers like M.F.K. Fisher, but this won’t be adequate preparation to become a food critic.
Instead, many people learn how to cook, work in restaurants, manage or co-own them, or alternately they might study at culinary school. Schools like the French Culinary Institute in New York City actually have food journalism programs. Unless a person has worked in the restaurant industry for some time, such a program may be a very good investment. Other studies might follow like classes on how to properly taste wine, food and wine parings, and chocolate tasting
Even with this preparation, it may not always be possible to become a food critic, or to get paid for doing it. Some will succeed at this if they can get work with a magazine or newspaper that has a food section. People commonly think of magazines like Gourmet as great places to work, but jobs may be fiercely competitive. If a person can't obtain a job at one of the top-billed food magazines, they should try for work with small or local travel magazines instead, where a reputation can be built. Getting to know local restaurant owners and chefs may also be helpful, since they might ask for a review.
Another way to go is to start a food critic website, and simply write. Use either restaurant ads or google ads to fund it. If the writing is good, and the site begins to get links, it may ultimately increase profile. Though this is an unorthodox way to become a food critic, increasingly, web writing is replacing magazines, and it may be the wave of the future for the literate foodie.