Toronto's culinary cognoscenti are reeling from the news that after 38 years on the feedbag long-time Globe and Mail restaurant critic Joanne Kates will no longer be telling them what she thinks of them as of next Saturday.
Well, some of them are.
"While it's true that Joanne Kates could be prickly and criticize aspects of restaurants that some now deem unimportant, I still feel that her voice and her opinions will be missed," says a shocked Susur Lee.
"She had very high standards that don't always apply to each and every restaurant - coat checks, for example - but her knowledge of food and her passion for it was unparalleled."
Zane Caplansky is also surprised to see Kates go.
"As a reader for many years, I was thrilled - and somewhat shocked - to be reviewed by Joanne Kates and even included in her list of 10 best new restaurants of 2008," says the deli king.
"Ms. Kates' departure marks the end of an era. Toronto's food scene has never been as vibrant and exciting as it is today. I'm curious to see who will take her place and shine a light on the people and places that make the food scene so wonderful."
Others are more ambivalent.
"I stopped reading her reviews long ago," says Mark Cutrara of Cowbell whose meat-centric carte Kates found "the sort of thing to bring strong carnivores to their knees."
"The scene is changing and fine dining restaurants have simplified and adapted to the market. And with the likes of Yelp and Urbanspoon, everyone's a critic. At least Kates was consistent and knew about food."
A few might disagree. Last weekend she trashed Chantecler, finding the nouvelle Parkdale diner's offerings both "surprisingly yummy" and "wonky" before ultimately declaring "cute doesn't cut it in a restaurant where dinner for two tops a hundred bucks."
"We weren't surprised given her history of not reviewing restaurants that aren't geared to octogenarians," says Chantecler co-owner Jacob Wharton-Shukster. "It was very telling of her demographic."