Gone are the days of the nameless, faceless food critic. Hell, formal food critiques, in general, are a dying breed. Food critics are now mostly food writers or food bloggers.

We highlight farmers, make lists, write about deals around town, and yes, occasionally give our opinion on food. Budget constraints often prohibit visiting a restaurant more than once for a specific piece. In truth, it’s not very fair to the restaurant, but you do the best you can.

We now rarely duck into restaurants wearing low baseball caps. We enjoy the attention our newfound hobby and/or career gives us. Canon’s have replaced small notebooks. Attention has replaced anonymity. Twitter has replaced silence.

So few food writers are experts. We think we are, but we’re not. I am not. We haven’t been to culinary school, and we’ve spent no time in a professional kitchen. But we do have a forum to give our opinions.

I imagine if you asked for the absolute truth, most restaurant owners and chefs aren’t too fond of writers. And that’s fine. Professionalism on both sides usually wins out. In a perfect world, I guess we’d almost never come in contact with one another. But we coexist, because no sooner than a writer criticizes a chef’s brisket, we are emailing him or her for a quote about a restaurant special.

Emily Van Zandt, a local writer, recently wrote a post on the topic of not being friends with chefs. Whether right or wrong, it’s human nature to tie yourself into an article that involves your field. I did so with this piece. Personally, I enjoy being friendly with chefs, much like I enjoy being friendly with most humans I come in contact with. This friendliness gives me satisfaction, not unlike the same satisfaction I get from being completely honest in my writing.

I’ve covered food in Houston, Boston, and now Little Rock, and can tell you that without question, Little Rock is a different beast. It’s small. The food community is even smaller. It’s this smallness that gives me big pleasure. I’m no longer one of two hundred writers (see Boston). I’m now one of a handful. My words can make an impact, giving me a satisfaction that can rarely be captured in a larger market.

Is there a little ass-kissing across the board on the part of food writers? I imagine so. Are the lines blurred? Probably. It would be hypocritical to say otherwise. When we do things like judge a food contest at a restaurant, have our faces plastered on Facebook, and attend free media tastings, of course the lines are blurred.

In the end, it’s about enjoying your craft, treating people fairly, and being honest with the reader.

I hope I do that, and if you think otherwise, please feel free to let me know.