When word got out Saturday night that food writer and Pulitzer Prize winner Jonathan Gold had passed away at age 57 from pancreatic cancer, chefs and journalists quickly took to social media to celebrate him. Rightfully so. He was the most well known and respected food writer of his generation; his reviews in the LA Times, the last stop in a storied career, celebrated and dissected one of the world’s most distinct and exciting dining scenes.
The LA Times, where he did two turns as critic with additional stints at LA Weekly, Gourmet and The New York Times, published a touching obituary announcing his death, and has lifted the pay wall around his reviews for the time being.
Here at Food Republic, we covered Gold frequently over the years, whether it was helping promote his annual 101 Best Restaurants lists or discussing the documentary about him, 2016’s City of Gold, or kvetching about his moves, as when he returned to the LA Times back in 2012.
Gold’s death is rightly being called untimely; his family deserved way more time with him, and those who care about food in Los Angeles and around the world would have gladly read his inventive, lively prose for decades to come. Like Hunter S. Thompson did for gonzo journalism or Lester Bangs with music — and Gold had a respectable run as a music journalist early in his career — Gold will go down as an outsized personality whose work surpassed even his charisma, and he’ll influence food writers well into the future.
With that, we leave you with a sampling of some of our most memorable Jonathan Gold stories:
Tribute: L.A. Food Writer Jonathan Gold — Here, former Food Republic writers and editors Matt Rodbard, Jess Kapadia and Jason Kessler, and editorial director Richard Martin, offered personal stories about Gold to coincide with his 2012 move back to the LA Times from the LA Weekly.
For Good L.A. Eats, Jonathan Gold Directs You To A Strip Mall — Here, Jess Kapadia interviews Gold on the eve of the 2016 premiere of the documentary City of Gold. It’s worth a read for all of his wit and wisdom, but here’s one memorable excerpt from Gold:
I definitely have a job that I’m not allowed to complain about, right? It’s like “Oh, poor you, you have to go to six steak houses this week while half the world is starving.” I don’t think it’s contradictory. I think that at the point where I stop enjoying it and the idea of going to a new restaurant didn’t make me excited even a little bit, it’s probably the point where I should hang it up. Just like a theater critic, right? If you’re in a place where the curtain rising doesn’t leave you at least a tiny glimmer of hope that you’re going to be seeing the best thing ever, then you should probably, I don’t know, go into food writing. [laughs] Or maybe wine writing. Wine writing is what food writers do when their knees start to go.