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.