Hot New York Times Food Critic Rumor: It's Pete Wells

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The latest hot rumor from The New York Times dining desk is that Pete Wells, the paper's dining editor, is going to take over permanently for Sam Sifton. That's the word from Politico's Dylan Byers, who cites "several sources at The New York Times." Fortune reporter Dan Roberts tweeted, "seems like a strange story for Politico to break, but hey, they broke it." But of course, Byers is a former Adweek media reporter, freshly moved to D.C. for Politico, so it's a nice scoop for him, even if slightly outside the political-media nexus. Check out Wells's photo to the left, courtesy of a Times interview with him from 2007.

Update (11:40 a.m. EST): This rumor edges out the last round of speculation that fingered New Orleans Times-Picayune critic Brett Anderson as the likely contender. Back when that rumor was the rage, we spoke with somebody who had a bit of inside knowledge of the process, who told us that Anderson was, indeed, the favorite. Our source also pointed out that Times assistant managing editor Rick Berke did the hiring for the job, not Wells himself, which means if Wells really is getting it at least he's not appointing himself.

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You may remember, Wells filled in as critic between the end of Frank Bruni's reign and the beginning of Sifton's, and he's been at the helm of the dining desk since 2006. Eater suggests that he might not be filling in as interim critic this time precisely because he's been tapped (or at least short-listed) to take the job full time. 

Anderson, meanwhile, tweeted on Nov. 5 that he was off to Argentina for two weeks, so maybe he's not in final negotiations for the critic's job. Or maybe he's already been hired and is taking time off in between gigs! His whereabouts led to some speculation when he was the rumored favorite a couple of weeks ago and Ben Leventhal pointed out that he hadn't filed a review for the Times Picayune in a while. But he's been producing regularly since then, so obviously he hasn't left the Times-Picayune for good yet, or at least he hadn't as of Thursday.

If Wells really has got the job, some restaurateurs out there are going to be pretty steamed. Grub Street wrote during his last run that he was noticeably stingy with the stars, dropping two zero-star reviews two weeks in a row. Ouch.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.