The Sunday Times have announced that the permanent replacement for AA Gill’s Table Talk restaurant review column is Marina O’Loughlin. The surprise announcement comes after months of rotating reviewers — including George Reynolds, Lisa Markwell, Ed Balls and David Baddeil — have filled the weekly slot.
O’Loughlin, who remains London and the UK’s only high-profile anonymous restaurant critic, joined The Guardian from the Metro free-sheet newspaper in 2012. Her first review will be published in The Sunday Times on 15 October.
AA Gill, who was one of the country’s most -respected restaurant critics died of cancer in December last year, just weeks after announcing his diagnosis in his column. In the review, published on 20 November, he wrote: “I’ve got cancer. Sorry to drop that onto the breakfast table apropos of nothing at all. Apropos and cancer are rarely found in the same sentence. I wasn’t going to mention it, the way you don’t. In truth, I’ve got an embarrassment of cancer, the full English. There is barely a morsel of offal not included.”
O’Loughlin moves to The Sunday Times as one of the most decorated in the business, having won six major awards in recent years, including three Guild of Food Writers awards and Critic of the Year at the British Press Awards.
Martin Ivens, Editor of The Sunday Times, said in a statement: “I have long been a fan of Marina’s reviews. She has a unique style and sense of fun. She will be a bright star in The Sunday Times’s galaxy of talent.”
O’Loughlin said: “I’m hugely excited about joining The Sunday Times — it’s where I first started reading about restaurants I could then only dream of visiting. And I’m absolutely awestruck at the idea of following in AA Gill’s footsteps, even though my shoes are more likely to be Topshop than hand-made.”
Rumours have been spreading in the industry about who would replace Gill. This news paves the way for the rumours to now circulate about who will replace O’Loughlin at The Guardian.