What one restaurant critic learned after 15 years of pretending to be a white guy

For 15 years, Annabelle Tometich, a restaurant critic at the News-Press in Fort Myers, Florida, published her reviews under the name “Jean Le Boeuf,” a pseudonym handed down from critic to critic at the newspaper since 1979. Publishing under the name of a fake white Frenchman was thrilling at first, Tometich writes in a recent Washington Post essay: “I’d always been seen as Brown, as mixed, as never quite enough. But as Le Boeuf I could wield the ultimate power: Whiteness.” Being Le Boeuf, Tometich says, gave her the freedom and privilege to not care about race. But it also consumed her and further complicated her relationship to her identity as “a half-Filipina, half-Yugoslavian/English/Canadian woman.” Earlier this year, Tometich revealed herself as Le Boeuf in an essay to News-Press readers, expecting hate mail and accusations of “killing” the (fake) local icon. Instead, readers were generally encouraging and accepting. “I’m no longer afraid to be myself,” writes Tometich.