Jonathan Gold, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Restaurant Critic, Has Died at 57

The popular writer helped to nurture and define the culinary culture of Los Angeles.

Jonathan Gold, the Pulitzer Prize-winning restaurant critic who championed the breadth and depth of the Los Angeles dining scene, has died of pancreatic cancer at age 57. According to Los Angeles Times, he was just diagnosed with the disease in early July.

“He, more than any chef, changed the dining scene in Los Angeles,” acclaimed L.A. chef Nancy Silverton told the publication. “He really was the ambassador for our city.” 

Rather than sticking with the white linen tablecloths of fine dining, Gold was known to scour the corners of Southern California to find the best food made by small, family-owned ethnic restaurants, and had a world-wise palate that could be seriously trusted.

“Before Tony Bourdain, before reality TV and Parts Unknown and people really being into ethnic food in a serious way, it was Jonathan who got it, completely,” popular food writer and editor Ruth Reichl told New York Times. “He really got that food was a gateway into the people, and that food could really define a community. He was really writing about the people more than the food.” The New Yorker called Gold "the most adventurous eater in America" in 2009.

 

Before turning his pen to restaurants, Gold was a music writer who contributed to publications like Rolling Stone and Spin, infusing his food stories with the same electricity required to profile rock stars and rappers. He is survived by his wife Laurie Ochoa and two children.

A documentary on his life's work called City of Gold emerged in 2016. It's a heartwarming portrait of the man who dedicated his career to tracking down the most memorable culinary experiences off the beaten path, and made an incredible difference in the lives of countless mom and pop businesses across Los Angeles. There could be no finer tribute to his memory than to watch the film and support the restaurants that made him passionate to be a restaurant critic.

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