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LA Times OG restaurant critic, Jonathan Gold, joins Anthony Bourdain in foodie heaven

Jonathan Gold, American food writer, died this weekend leaving behind a literacy legacy celebrating global influences in American food today.

by: Katy Rose | 23 Jul 2018

Images: Getty/ LA Times

Los Angeles: Jonathan Gold, the celebrated food writer for the Los Angeles Times and the LA Weekly throughout most of the 1990s and the 2000s, has died in a Los Angeles hospital from pancreatic cancer. He was a champion of family owned, ethnic restaurants off the beaten track in a city where immigrant influences brought colour and vibrancy to an otherwise dreary cityscape. 

Before there was Anthony Bourdain hunting down fermented shark meat on Parts Unknown, there was Gold attempting to eat every taco on Pico Boulevard - the mammoth thoroughfare through LA.  He was renowned for his dogged determination to track down exotic Korean dishes or authentic Sicilian gelaterias, often stumbling across a great martini or a vegan brunch spot on his way there. 

The subject of countless radio documentaries, film features and television series such as The Chef’s Table (Vol 3 Ep 3), Gold declared in 2015 that he was abandoning the long held myth of the food critics veil of anonymity. 

“Restaurant critics, it has long been held, aspire to a state of perfect stealth, an anonymity so deep and so profound that they could double as the protagonists in John le Carré thrillers, lest they be plied with food and drink better than that available to your brother Alvin when he takes his fiancée out for dinner on a Saturday night. We are silent vigilantes avenging curdled hollandaise”, wrote Gold at the time. 

Gold was eloquently honest at all times. Reviewing the humble Thai restaurant and coffee shop, Sapp Coffee Shop, Gold said, “Sapp served a really great dish of chicken with rice the other day. I thought I should mention this because I have probably ordered the same thing 99 out of the 100 last times I've been there, a murky, gamy, intensely spicy boat noodle soup loaded with all manner of slithery beef things, a dish that comes perilously close to being my favorite Thai dish in L.A.” 

He was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in Criticism in 2007 for his work with the LA Times, and was again nominated in 2011. He famously covered Dr Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg in an early feature for Rolling Stone magazine in 1993, and his annual list of 99 Essential Restaurants has been immortalised in this tribute video to the back track of Jay-Z’s 99 Problems.

He leaves behind wife Laurie Ochoa (with whom he had two children), a reputed collection of almost 5000 cookbooks, and fans of his works all over the world. 

ALSO READ: The food world expresses shock and sadness following death of Anthony Bourdain


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