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This woman is the nation’s 1st ‘carryout critic’: How she judges takeout food

See how Crystal Fernanders judges takeout food from her living room.

As the coronavirus pandemic closed restaurants and changed the way we dine, one food critic changed her technique to meet the new normal.

Crystal Fernanders is Washington City Papers' new "carryout critic." There, it's her job to test out the best restaurants in the Washington, D.C. area from the comfort of her couch.

“It’s a direct result of the pandemic that changed the way so many of us order food,” said NBC’s Catie Beck, reporting for Saturday TODAY.

With more people spending their dollars on takeout, Fernanders' critiques offer a more in-depth perspective than your typical Yelp review.

Fernanders, who used to be a restaurant cook before transitioning into a career as a food blogger and bakery manager, gave TODAY a look behind the scenes as she reviewed the offerings at Luvplates Soul & Grill, a Black-owned carryout restaurant in Washington, D.C. She tested out their Grilled BBQ Halal Chicken, among other dishes.

"It's very tender," she said, sitting on the couch that she calls her office and her studio, dubbing the meal an "eight-and-a-half" out of ten.

While eating on the couch might seem like a simple job, Fernanders said that a lot of thought goes into the process.

"I take lots of notes," she explained "I take lots of pictures. When I'm in the restaurant I'll ask questions to the staff."

Fernanders said she will also interview customers in the restaurant when she's picking up her food to add even more details. Her reviews also include more than just the food: She even rates the packaging that the meal comes in.

"You don't want the food to seep through the container and spill into your car," she said.

The main scale Fernanders rates the takeout she tries on is whether or not it brings comfort. Just as importantly, she also looks at whether the food yields leftovers, and how they stands up to the microwave.

"This tastes just like it did on Friday," she declared after microwaving the rest of her meal from Luvplates. "It just tastes immaculate."

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