Restaurant critic Jonathan Gold died on July 21 at age 57, having succumbed to pancreatic cancer so quickly that many of his colleagues hadn't even known he was sick.
In his career, the Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Gold attracted the attention of many fans for his democratic and positive reviewing style — and counted such stars as Anthony Bourdain among his fans.
In Bourdain's book Medium Raw — coincidentally published in 2010 on June 8, the date he would die by suicide eight years later — Bourdain wrote about Gold, who was then at L.A. Weekly. (Gold subsequently moved onto the Los Angeles Times.) "Jonathan Gold, the food writer for L.A. Weekly, is a hero. I’m hardly the first to notice. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his dedicated and pioneering coverage of all those places in the L.A. area that nobody had ever covered before. (His award was the first for a food writer.) He gave them respect, treating little mom-and-pop noodle shops in strip malls with a degree of importance they hadn’t enjoyed before."
Bourdain added, "He helped give a 'legitimacy' to serious critical analyses of Thai, Vietnamese, inexpensive Mexican, and less appreciated regional cuisines, which hadn’t really existed before. He put them on a par with fine dining and wrote about them with as much — if not more — enthusiasm, helping to usher in a (very useful) kind of reverse snobbism, a skepticism about fine dining that has only been helpful and a good thing in the long run."
It was both his approach to covering food as well as his unique flair for language that caught Bourdain's attention; indeed it was those two characteristics that made Bourdain himself so beloved.
In the book, Bourdain added, "And the motherf---er can write. Oh, can he write. Good, original sentences on the subject of food are an all-too-rare thing — and Gold pretty much owns his territory. As a writer, as a force for good, as a guy who upped the ante for anyone daring to write about food or simply looking for food to eat, he’s a hero. By writing about food, he’s helped change how and where people eat it. In a near unbroken field of mediocrity, here is a man who makes just about anything or any place he cares to talk about seem like someplace you should care about."
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