Jonathan Gold, LA’s Most Celebrated Writer and Ardent Fan Gone at 57

Jonathan Gold and wife Laurie Ochoa enjoy the All Star Lunch. Photo by Elise Thompson.

Today we lost Pulitzer Prize and James Beard Award-winning food critic Jonathan Gold to Pancreatic Cancer. He was 57. I am not a professional journalist. I am not able to put my own feelings aside and write an article about Jonathan Gold’s many contributions to the city of Los Angeles and the culinary world. But to me he was a genius, a role model and a hero. We were perhaps only passing acquaintances, but I like to think he was my friend. In lieu of an obituary I will post excerpts from a few of my previous posts, as well as some of my pictures of him, sometimes pulling faces or pretending to look serious, but always willing to take a few minutes for me and my camera.

“Ever since I started writing food reviews, I have been haunted by Jonathan Gold. I would be researching pho for a post, and come across one of his articles, “Cinnamon, anise and the funk of simmering beef, the soup’s unmistakable signature, perfumed the air.” Sometimes Jonathan Gold just makes me want to stick a fork in my head.

-Kiki Meets Jonathan Gold

“As American cities become homogenized, falling to the empires of Applebee’s and Olive Garden, Jonathan Gold searches out the lost tribes, reminding us that there are still countless unique experiences waiting. He is a cultural anthropologist, revealing the city of Los Angeles through the food of the people and the stories of their immigrant ancestors. But he is not a dispassionate commentator. He is really rooting for the little mom and pop places, and they respond with warmth and respect…[Jonathan Gold took exception to being referred to as an anthropologist]

“There are a few talking heads, but most of the voiceovers are the words of Gold himself, including the lyrical writing for which he is known. And that is really what this film is all about. Nothing can surpass his beautiful similes, as he describes a black mole as “…so dark that it seems to suck the light out of the airspace around it, spicy as a novela and bitter as tears…”

-Movie Review: City of Gold

“When I sent out a general Facebook request for Vancouver restaurant suggestions, none other than Jonathan Gold recommended Sun Sui Wah. Now, that is a recommendation to heed. If Jonathan Gold picked something up off the sidewalk and told me to eat it I probably would–no matter what Lux Interior said.

Really, we should have only ordered one thing. It was an insane amount of food. But damn it, I was there to have crab and God help me, I was gonna have crab. I asked for the smallest crab. They brought a live one out for our inspection, and in spite of it frightening nearby diners, I nodded my approval.

My nephew warned, “Ummmm….auntie….” because he knew how much meat was in that monster. I had no idea. I had eaten 8 crab legs in one sitting before at the local crab shack, so this would be easy. And dammit, a Pulitzer Prize winner wanted me to eat this crab! If Gabriel Garcia-Marquez wanted me to eat this crab, who would I be to question him?”

-Obey Jonathan Gold at Any Cost

Q: One winery recently announced a sponsorship of bands that they “pair” with various selections from their vineyards. Do you think the idea of specific music and alcohol or food pairings has merit, and if so, any recommendations?

A: The Descendents and Der Weinerschnitzel is a classic Los Angeles combination.

Q: I see Rivera is on the list of participating restaurants. Do you know if they will be offering their infused tequila?

A: No idea. But chef John Sedlar is the Zen master of tequila, and his bartender Julian Cox is no stranger to the mysteries of the agave. Pretty much anything could happen.

Q: Where do you keep your Pulitzer?

A: On a dusty windowsill, flanked by two dead piranhas.

-Jonathan Gold’s Union Station Cocktail Party: Pretty Much Anything Could Happen

 

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Elise Thompson

About Elise Thompson

Born and raised in the great city of Los Angeles, this food, culture and music-loving punk rock angeleno wants to turn you on to all that is funky, delicious and weird in the city. While Elise holds down the fort, her adventurous alter ego Kiki Maraschino is known to roam the country in search of catfish.
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