Jonathan Gold is renowned for his compassionate, fair writing. A food critic for the LA Times, Jonathan is not afraid to review a restaurant that calls a strip mall home. Unlike other food critics, he will go where no other man has went before, and be happy to share the tale. When you read one of his reviews, it feels like you’re catching up with an old friend. In the documentary City of Gold, everyone who makes a cameo paints the same picture of Jonathan: that he’s as passionate about food as he is people.
I must admit, I hadn’t heard of Jonathan Gold until I began listening to the podcast KCRW Good Food. Host Evan Kleinman introduced Jonathan as a food critic and he shared one of his favourite restaurants in Koreatown. As I began to listen to Good Food more and more, I realized that Jonathan was a weekly guest. Wondering what made him such an important character in the LA food scene, I began to investigate. I had no idea that his impact was so large and widespread.
Jonathan is a critic but he is not mean. I feel that a critic can give constructive criticism while still maintaining respect and a sense of putting yourselves in the restauranteur’s shoes. I understand, you’re getting paid to critique a restaurant, and people do depend on these reviewers when making choices for where to eat food, but you don’t need to trash an establishment in the process. When Pete Wells tore apart LocoL, Jonathan Gold questioned if all restaurants need to be reviewed, and reminded Pete that the team at Locol were doing their best to provide healthy, sustainable options for a community who didn’t have enough. His compassion towards Pete reminds me to give everyone respect, even if they’re undeserving, even if they get on my nerves.
The documentary shows a man who loves food, but has other passions (his family, music, community) and reminds you that you don’t have to sacrifice one love for the other. He has managed to write poetic about taco stands and even won a Pulitzer prize for his food writing.
An inspiration to myself, not only for his thoughtful writing, but also his heart, I highly recommend you watch City of Gold.