GRAM Magazine wishes to publish a retraction, and an apology in relation to the recent interview with Mark Dorrell, chief judge of the Gault et Millau Restaurant Guide Australia.
Within the published interview, there were several mentions of a specific review guide, namely The Age Good Food Guide, in relation to their review practices.
It was our error to have not approached The Age Good Food Guide and seek a response to the comments made by the interviewee. We apologise to The Age Good Food Guide and its co-editors Roslyn Grundy and Janne Apelgren. This oversight and error in judgement is something we deeply regret.
We have taken stock, and indeed have learnt a very hard, but very valuable lesson. In turn, we have reviewed, and adjusted our editorial and interview policies to ensure an error of this nature does not happen again. For the record, we did not misquote the interviewee.
We apologise for any distress this article has caused. It was not our intention to perpetuate misinformation.
Today we have also spoken directly with Roslyn Grundy, co-editor of The Age Good Food Guide. While we regret we did not do this earlier, we wanted to take this opportunity to publish her insights into the comments made, and in general, the practices of The Age Good Food Guide.
Could you take us through The Age Good Food Guide reviewing process from A to B
Every year the editors compile a list of places to be reviewed, based on the strongest-performing restaurants from the previous edition, word-of-mouth recommendations from reviewers and others and new places we’ve observed. We assess the list, aiming to send reviewers to the best and most interesting places in Victoria.
We then allocate restaurants to reviewers. Each of our approximately 70 reviewers visit about 10 restaurants each. They are instructed to book under a false name, to be discreet and keep a low profile, and to try to avoid sounding like a reviewer.
At the end of the visit, we ask reviewers to pay for their meal in full and avoid introducing themselves to the owners. But we do ask them to phone the next day to verify factual information such as opening hours, prices, dish descriptions and so on.
We ask Good Food Guide reviewers not to talk publicly about their jobs or the restaurants they are reviewing, not to post photos on Instagram or twitter, not to discuss anything about it on blogs.
How do you go about formatting the guide?
The reviewers send us their review, the bill, the menu and wine list and the list of dishes and drinks they consumed. We edit the reviews, checking the accuracy of descriptions against menus and other facts.
We also ask the restaurants to complete a form with their opening hours, and other information, which we cross-check against the review. We then have a fact-checker call every restaurant reviewed in the guide as close as possible to publication. Not every restaurant visited makes the cut. Every year about 100 restaurants are eliminated so we can tell our readers about the best restaurants in Victoria.
How do the reviews for the guide take place
Every year, the restaurants are reviewed afresh and if the editors have any doubts about the reviewers’ scores, or don’t think the review is an accurate reflection of the restaurant, we send another reviewer back. Some places are revisited up to three or four times until we are confident we are providing our readers with the most accurate reflection of the experience. The scores are assessed by a panel of senior reviewers to help us calibrate them overall.
How do you think The Guide came to be a leader in food critique in Melbourne
The Age Good Food Guide celebrated its 35th anniversary this year. We’ve become Australia’s leading guide by putting the hard work into the fairness, accuracy and independence of our reviews. The guide is written for the dining public, not the restaurant industry, and every year we revisit every restaurant listed in the guide, aiming to make the guide better and more engaging each time. Over the years we’ve educated both diners and restaurant owners about hospitality standards. By setting high benchmarks, The Age Good Food Guide has helped make Melbourne one of the world’s great dining capitals.