What do you do?
There are 6,000 places in the guide and we inspect them anonymously.
I have lunch and dinner every day in a restaurant. I have three courses, otherwise I can't determine the quality of the food. I examine the menu, look for balance and choice, see what they are trying to achieve. The number one thing is the quality of ingredients, then we look for culinary skills, value for money. There is a lot of eating. It's easier to eat if I have a glass of wine. In Britain, the quality of cooking has improved, so the job has got better. We've all had food poisoning - it's an occupational hazard. I spend three weeks out of four travelling around four counties, and one week in the office.
How did you get the job?
I used to work in hotel management. I wrote to the editor of the guides and they called me for an interview. They hadn't had a vacancy for six years.
Does reality match the dream?
Yes, though there is far more work involved than people think. For us, a restaurant is the office. You can't stay in a hotel or eat in a restaurant without feeling as though you're working. I have to endure friends trying to impress me with their cooking. It's a small price to pay for the job you love.