I used to look forward to Jonathan Gold publishing his new list every year of the 101 best restaurants in Los Angeles. He was the only food critic to have ever recieved the Pulitzer Prize. It was something quite extraordinary to see taco trucks and obscure restaurants in strip malls compete alongside fancy restaurants. He shed light on Los Angeles’ vibrant food culture that is born out of the amazing diversity of this city. I spect far too much money trying to eat at every one of those 101 restaurants listed every year. Many restuarants managed to stay on the list year after year, so I can proudly say I was able to visit most of those restaurants.
It almost feels like a different era. We lost Jonathan Gold to cancer a couple of summers ago and now we are in the middle of a pandemic that has desimated the foodie culture here. I’m afraid to see which restuarants have shuttered their doors permanently and scared to guess as to how many more casualties will happen by the time this is all over.
Not too long ago, I would get season tickets to the Los Angeles Phiharmonic, LA Opera, and the Hollywood Bowl. I knew far in advance which concerts were coming up. I would make restaurant reservations for 5pm to have enough time to enjoy dinner before an opera at 7:30 or 8 in the evening. If Mahler or Wagner were on the program, I would make my obligatory reservation at Patina–a wonderful French restaurant at Walt Disney Concert Hall that would always recommend against the 8-course dinner and settle instead for the 5-course option becuase the 8-course woudl be longer than the 3 hours we had before the show.
There was a documentary about Jonathan Gold a few years ago titled “City of Gold”. I hope this city’s restaurant scene will regain its luster once again and make Jonathan Gold smile from wherever he may be.
As a side-note: One of the things that most captivated me from this widely popular and successful food critic is that he saw himeself as a failed cellist. One of my greatest desires is to reach a point where I can feel successful. So to see someone this successful see themselves as a failure in some shape or form really drove home the point for me that we’re almost invariably our own worst critic. If we stop and think, we have each had lots of successes throughout our lives, but we always downplay those successes and focus on our failures. In sense, that may be good becuase it means there is a drive to always improve ourselves, but we must not forget to take a moment to acknowledge all the great things we have accomplished.