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Food Critic Jonathan Gold Dies At Age 57


LA's culinary world is mourning the loss of a titan. Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold championed the diversity of food in LA. And he won a Pulitzer for his writing. Gold died over the weekend of pancreatic cancer at the age of 57. NPR's Justin Richmond has this remembrance.

JUSTIN RICHMOND, BYLINE: Unlike almost any other food critic, Jonathan Gold didn't care if a restaurant was fine dining or a hole in the wall. Good was good. Here he is in the documentary "City Of Gold," driving around the San Gabriel Valley in his truck pointing out some of his favorite restaurants and strip malls.


JONATHAN GOLD: That's probably the best dim sum in town at the moment. That's the remaining Chinese Islamic restaurant. This is Lupe. This is the place I love. In case you think I love everything, the stuff in that restaurant is absolutely disgusting.

RICHMOND: Gold's write-ups could turn a small mom-and-pop place into a big success, like the Oaxacan restaurant Guelegetza. Co-owner Bricia Lopez says, when Gold wrote his review, the restaurant only had six tables.

BRICIA LOPEZ: So one day, my dad walks in and was like, where are all these white people coming from because there were all these white people. Somebody was like, don't you know? You were in the LA Times.

RICHMOND: Now Guelegetza seats 300 people. Evan Kleiman worked with Gold for 20 years on member station KCRW's show Good Food.

EVAN KLEIMAN, BYLINE: He became the spiritual food guide for people who were new to the city and felt like they'd made the wrong choice coming here. And then they sort of got infected by his delight.

RICHMOND: Jonathan Gold grew up in Los Angeles. He went to school at UCLA. And he played cello in punk bands before writing a food column for The LA Weekly called Counter Intelligence. He moved to New York to become a restaurant critic for Gourmet Magazine but quickly moved back to LA. In 2007, he became the first and only food writer to win a Pulitzer Prize. Carolina Miranda was his colleague at the LA Times. She loved how Gold wrote in a way anyone could relate to.

CAROLINA MIRANDA: I was rereading this this review he had done of a Peruvian restaurant, in which he compared this one Peruvian dish called chicarron de pollo - he compared it to a Peruvian version of chicken mcnuggets.

RICHMOND: Gold was also famous for sharing his table with friends - Evan Kleiman again.

KLEIMAN: You know, he was interested to know what you thought about what you were eating and was always open to a fight (laughter). Yeah, I'm going to miss that so much.

RICHMOND: In a 2015 online interview, Jonathan Gold told Vice his mission was to get people to be less afraid of their neighbors. Justin Richmond, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.