RIP, Jonathan Gold

LATimes front-page Obituary

Jonathan Gold, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times restaurant critic who richly chronicled the city’s vast culinary landscape and made its food understandable and approachable to legions of fans, has died. He was 57.

Gold died of pancreatic cancer at St. Vincent Medical Center on Saturday evening, according to his wife, Times arts and entertainment editor Laurie Ochoa. The disease was diagnosed in early July.
One of the most widely admired voices of Los Angeles, Gold wrote about restaurants for four decades and became indelibly linked with the city in which he was born and raised.
“He, more than any chef, changed the dining scene in Los Angeles,” said longtime friend, chef and Mozza co-owner Nancy Silverton. “He really was the ambassador for our city.”
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.
“While most people might not go to places I write about, they know all the kinds of food that are available,” he said in a 2012 interview. “They get that this one place has really good soup dumplings, one has Shandong-style beef rolls and another has fantastic beef noodle soup. Even if most people don’t go eat it, I think there is a greater awareness.”
Gold’s death is the latest devastating loss for the food community, which is still reeling from the suicide last month of Anthony Bourdain, another acclaimed food writer. And it was a shock because Gold’s decline was so rapid that many of his friends and colleagues didn’t even know he was ill.

Gold’s infectious enthusiasm for Los Angeles was delightful, and the film clip at the top is from the 2016 documentary City of Gold is only a taste of that great documentary. I urge you to find the documentary. It’s worth a bit of consideration on a lazy summer day. If you don’t fall in love with L.A. by the end of it, I’ll be surprised.

But even if you are not a fan of LA, or food, try to find some of Gold’s writing today. He was a true craftsman of the written word. As many of you know, I admire stylists—those writers who are so gifted that when you read a passage, you can seem to hear the authors voice (think Charlie Pierce); we have so few stylists any more. Gold was one of the greats, and he will be missed.

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6 Responses to RIP, Jonathan Gold

  1. That’s sad. Fuck cancer, but fuck pancreatic cancer most of all. Took my grandfather within a month, and my best friend in high school’s father the same way.

    Liked by 2 people

    • retiredeng says:

      I suppose it can be beat but pancreatic cancer is swift. Maybe that’s why it’s always fatal in a short time. 57 is young these days. R.I.P. Jonathan Gold.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. w3ski4me says:

    Pancreatic Cancer? I hate to be mean or disrespectful here, but isn’t that at least in part caused by diet?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Big Bad Bald Bastard says:

    I also love hole in the wall places, and seek out ethnic cuisines I’ve never had before. Food unites us, it is a window into other cultures. I think Mr Gold and I would have gotten along just fine. RIP, we need people like him, who value diversity, more than ever.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. MDavis says:

    For what it’s worth, the LA Times has taken down the paywall on Jonathan Gold news and also his pieces. So you can read or re-read in sweet remembrance.

    Liked by 1 person

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