If you live in LA and follow chefs the way your friends follow the Real Housewives, then I’m guessing you already know about Jonathan Gold and his annual 101 list of best restaurants in LA.
In fact, if you’re like me and spend the majority of your time researching restaurants on your phone and wiping drool off your screen, then you’re probably in the process of eating your way through his list and may even consider yourself a dedicated Gold disciple. All hail the LA food king.
This is a photo of me being the ultimate JGold fan girl at the LA Times Bite Nite event last year. We're basically BFFs now.
However, if you’re new to the LA restaurant scene or you’ve heard Gold’s name before but don’t understand what the hype is all about, stay tuned. I’ve compiled a list of the reasons why you should trust this man... with your food allowance and your precious taste buds.
1. He was born and raised in LA
As an LA native, Jonathan Gold has spent his entire life discovering and understanding the city and the diverse cultures that reside in it. His dedication to exploring Los Angeles began in his early twenties, when he decided to spend a year eating at every restaurant down Pico Boulevard, and continues now with his annually updated 101 list. He also graduated from UCLA, so he’s like, super smart.
2. He’s the first food critic to win a Pulitzer Prize
In 2007, he won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism “for his zestful, wide ranging restaurant reviews, expressing the delight of an erudite eater.”
3. He’s real about anonymity
In a 2015 article published in the LA Times titled “Jonathan Gold Drops Anonymous Restaurant Critic Mask,” Mr. Gold reveals why technology and social media make anonymity an unrealistic goal for big-time critics. He also explains that anonymity can be problematic for restaurants because “if chefs truly can cook better when they know a critic is in the house, then restaurants without an early warning system are at a permanent disadvantage.”
4. He wrote a book and starred in a documentary
Published in 2000, JGold's book “Counter Intelligence” serves as a comprehensive guide to 200 of LA’s unique and culturally diverse restaurants. The documentary “City of Gold,” created by filmmaker Lara Gabbert and released in 2015, gives an inside prospective into Jonathan Gold’s life as the Los Angeles Times food critic.
5. He cooks
Not only does he appreciate different cuisines and well prepared food but he's also an avid cook and enjoys preparing meals for his family at home. When you frequent farmer’s markets and understand the process of cooking, it makes sense that you would become more capable of judging and deciphering ingredients and techniques used by others.
The list of reasons why Jonathan Gold should be your go-to source for restaurants in LA could easily continue but at this point, I’m positive you’re already convinced.
If you’re not quite comfortable leaving the popular areas of Westwood, Santa Monica, Venice, and West Hollywood and investigating the range of cuisines that Jonathan Gold covers, then I suggest you watch his documentary. When asked in an interview what he thinks is the main takeaway point of the film, Gold replied, “Live in your entire city, live in all of it. Don’t stay in your neighborhood, go and see what else is out there. The more that we know what our neighbors are doing, the more we’ll get along.” Who can argue with that?