Legendary Food Critic Jonathan Gold
Updated: Apr 22, 2020
No one knew the diversity of food in Los Angeles like legendary food critic for the LA Times Jonathan Gold, and the only person to win a Pulitzer for food writing, who we also sadly lost in 2018.
“If you live in Los Angeles you are used to having your city explained to you by people who come in for a couple of weeks, stay in a hotel in beverly hills and take in what they can get to within ten minutes in their rent-a-car. The thing that people find hard to understand is the magnitude of what’s here. The huge number of multiple cultures that live in the city that come together in this beautiful and haphazard fashion. And the fault lines between them are sometimes where you can find the most beautiful things.” ~ Jonathan Gold 1960-2018
Mr. Jonathan Gold captured the many flavors and cultures of Los Angeles, and was one of the City’s biggest champions – He also became the first restaurant critic to win a Pulitzer for criticism in 2007. As an L.A. native, he stayed curious about the city in his far-ranging, relentless explorations of it to help readers understand its many layers. From the LA Times obit: Food criticism before him — and even during his time — focused on the austere, the high-end, the Michelin stars. Gold redefined the genre, drawn more to hole-in-the-wall joints, street food, mom-and-pop shops and ethnic restaurants than he was to haute cuisine. Although he appreciated and wrote beautifully about fine dining, he revered the taco truck more than the tasting menu….Gold pioneered a different approach to food criticism. His reviews — which appeared first in L.A. Weekly and later in The Times and Gourmet — were predominantly positive and focused on off-the-beaten-path ethnic restaurants, which he preferred to call traditional restaurants (he particularly disliked the phrase “exotic food”). He dismissed the notion of starred reviews and cheered the stuffy Michelin Guide’s departure from Los Angeles in 2010. Gold’s Counter Intelligence column, which he began writing in 1986, was an indispensable dining guide for Angelenos, giving them a way of discovering their own city….Affectionately known as J. Gold, he explored L.A.’s endless culinary offerings in his beat-up green Dodge Ram 1500, racking up 20,000 miles a year as he traversed the sprawling city in search of his next great meal.
One great memory, before his untimely passing in 2018, is when I tweeted at legendary food critic Jonathan Gold, as I was desperately searching for the sopapillas like my mother used to make for us when we were kids (not the savory kind, but the sweet dessert version that you eat straight from the oven and dip in honey. I am salivating just thinking about it!). He so kindly responded:
If you have the chance, watch the documentary "City of Gold"