The widely respected L.A.-based food critic Jonathan Gold passed yesterday from pancreatic cancer. He was only 57. I never met Gold, but felt as if I half-knew him through Laura Gabbert‘s City of Gold, a 2016 doc that I didn’t catch until it hit cable/streaming. And I certainly felt a kinship with Gold through his writing, which was always finely phrased, concise, aromatic and delicious.
Gold wrote about the “glorious mosaic” of L.A. cuisine, occasionally focusing on bucks-up, tourist-trade establishments but mostly on choice, small-time restaurants, food stands and food trucks serving less-than-glamorous neighborhoods. Quality was where he found it. But Gold was first and foremost a man of the world, an Anthony Bourdain-level gourmand and humanist who found wonder and joy in great dishes, and you felt that in every observation and side comment.
Boston Globe‘s Devra First: “Gold expanded our possibilities and introduced us to one another through food. He changed our ideas about what restaurant criticism is and should be, about what good food is and why. Although he wrote about L.A., his perspective reaches far beyond that city.
“Perhaps the most tangible difference he made was in the lives of the people he wrote about — immigrants cooking the dishes of their homeland, making ends meet until Gold came along and changed their fortunes. In City of Gold they talk about how his review completely rearranged things, how they can now afford to send their children to school. They also say that they didn’t fully understand what they were doing until they saw it reflected back at them through Gold’s words.
“As I wrote in a review of the movie, ‘He is the anti-Anton Ego, and the anti-Donald Trump — a distiller who writes from a place of love and generosity, a celebrator of the best kind of immigrant story.’ With the death of Anthony Bourdain last month, the food world has lost two of its great humanists.'”