Tejal Rao
Born1982 or 1983 (age 40–41)
London, United Kingdom
EducationEmerson College (BA)[1]
Alma materEmerson College
Occupation(s)Restaurant critic, recipe developer
Employer(s)The Village Voice, New York Times, Bloomberg L.P.
Websitewww.tejalrao.com Edit this at Wikidata

Tejal Rao (born 1982 or 1983)[2] is a restaurant critic, recipe developer and writer based in Los Angeles.[3] In 2018, she was named the first California restaurant critic for The New York Times.[3] In 2021, she was named editor of the New York Times subscription cooking newsletter The Veggie.[4]

Early life and education

Rao was born in London, but spent time in Kuwait, Sudan, and France during her youth before settling in Cobb County, Georgia as a teenager.[5] Rao's mother was born in Uganda and her father was raised in India.[citation needed]

Rao attended Emerson College, where she earned a BA in literature.[5]


In 2012, Rao joined The Village Voice as a food critic.[6] In 2013, Rao won the James Beard Foundation’s Craig Claiborne Distinguished Restaurant Review Award for her work for The Village Voice.[7]

In 2014, Rao joined Bloomberg as a food editor and restaurant critic.[8] In 2016, she won the James Beard Foundation’s Craig Claiborne Distinguished Restaurant Review Award once again, this time for her work at Bloomberg.[9] In the same year, Rao joined the New York Times as a food department staff writer and monthly columnist for its magazine.[10] In 2018, she was named the New York Times' first California restaurant critic, to better serve the growing number of New York Times readers in the state.[3] In 2021, Rao was named the New York Times writer for the vegetarian recipe newsletter The Veggie.[4]

Rao has also contributed to a range of other publications, such as The Atlantic, Edible, and Gourmet, among others.[5]

Personal life

In December 2020, she contracted COVID-19 and lost her sense of smell. She used smell therapy to regain it over the course of two months.[11][12] She lives in Los Angeles.[13]

Awards and accolades


  1. ^ "Astor Center - Wine and Food Experiences in New York City". www.astorcenternyc.com. Retrieved April 10, 2021.
  2. ^ Le, Vanna; Carlyle, Erin (December 17, 2012). "30 Under 30 - Food & Wine". Forbes. Retrieved August 7, 2023.
  3. ^ a b c "Tejal Rao Named First California Restaurant Critic". The New York Times Company. August 10, 2018. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  4. ^ a b Bahr, Sarah (August 19, 2021). "A Fresh Newsletter That's Not Just for Vegetarians". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 28, 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d "Tejal Rao". Vilcek Foundation. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  6. ^ Morabito, Greg (April 25, 2012). "Tejal Rao IN as New Village Voice Critic". Eater NY. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  7. ^ a b "Complete List of 2013 JBF Award Winners | James Beard Foundation". www.jamesbeard.org. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  8. ^ "Tejal Rao Named New Restaurant Critic at Bloomberg". Grub Street. August 11, 2014. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  9. ^ a b "The 2016 Beard Award Winners! | James Beard Foundation". www.jamesbeard.org. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  10. ^ "Esteemed Critic Tejal Rao Joins the New York Times". Grub Street. May 23, 2016. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  11. ^ "New York Times Restaurant Critic Tries To Regain Sense Of Smell After COVID-19". NPR. March 7, 2021.
  12. ^ Michael Barbaro (March 23, 2021). "A Food Critic Loses Her Sense of Smell". The Daily (Podcast). The New York Times. Retrieved August 7, 2023.
  13. ^ Blum, Steven (February 13, 2019). "Hey, the New York Times Wrote a Piece About L.A. That Doesn't Offend Our Sensibilities". LAmag - Culture, Food, Fashion, News & Los Angeles. Retrieved August 7, 2023.
  14. ^ "Forbes 30 Under 30 - Food & Wine". www.forbes.com. Retrieved April 6, 2021.