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Wednesday, Jun 19 2013 10:02 AM

'First Look': Restaurant critic Pete Tittl revealed — sort of

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    Californian contributing columnist and food critic Pete Tittl appeared on "First Look with Scott Cox." But he didn't show his face; he hid behind a copy of The Bakersfield Californian

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Maybe you thought you'd finally get a glimpse of restaurant critic Pete Tittl.

You'd be wrong. The Californian's contributing columnist appeared on "First Look with Scott Cox" on Wednesday -- wearing a nice big hat and sunglasses and speaking from behind a copy of the day's newspaper.

"Nobody knows who he is, nobody knows what he looks like," simulcast host Scott Cox said. He teased listeners to watch the show online: "You want to catch a glimpse of this guy."

No dice. But don't think people haven't tried to figure out what Tittl looks like. Tittl himself said he's heard tales from other cities where waiters are offered $50 if they can get a photo of a noted food critic.

And back in the '80s a local restaurant owner was really upset with Tittl's review, he said, and wanted to find his photo to put on a "wanted" poster. It never happened.

Tittl does not wear a disguise when reviewing restaurants, but he said some critics in big cities do. And some reviewers send "spies" to restaurants and then write what they report.

Not Tittl. But he uses cash, not credit cards. "I don't want people tracking me back that way," Tittl said.

And he wants to have the same experience as any other customer -- he's not looking for special treatment.

"I want to be treated like an ordinary reader," Tittl said.

Here are some nuggets from Tittl's chat with Cox:

* Tittl said he was once in a restaurant and heard a guy say he was Pete Tittl.

* "I am stunned by how good the restaurants downtown are getting," the critic said.

"I think the downtown, I remember when it was dead," Tittl said, later adding, "And now, things are happening."

* Cox tried to get Tittl to break a tie in his home: mayonnaise or Miracle Whip? Tittl said he prefers the basics like butter.

* Tittl, who is from Wisconsin, said "The happy cows aren't in California."

* Best Mexican food? Tittl says Red Pepper. He said if he lived by the restaurant, he'd probably be there every night.

* Fish and chips? Tittl says Coconut Joe's.

* Tittl plans his reviews ahead of time -- he knows through August where he's going. He said he always watches for new restaurants, new owners and new dishes. He visits restaurants more than once, trying to go at different days and times.

* Cox asked Tittl if he ever goes to a restaurant, finds the food is awful and does not even want to eat it.

Yes, Tittl said, and he's honest when a server inquires about the food. He said he's interested to see if they understand they're in a hospitality business and show concern, such as by adjusting the bill, or just shrug their shoulders.

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