Addison and Escárcega named restaurant critics for The Times; Peterson will launch a new video series on food
The Los Angeles Times has named Bill Addison, Eater’s national critic, and Patricia Escárcega, formerly the food critic for the Phoenix New Times, the new restaurant critics who will cover the vast and diverse dining scene in Southern California and beyond. Lucas Peterson, former host of Eater’s “Dining on a Dime” and Frugal Traveler columnist for the New York Times, will report and host a new video series and contribute to the Food and Travel sections. The three new hires, who all start in December, join recently-named Contributing Editor Peter Meehan, Acting Food Editor Jenn Harris, Test Kitchen Director Noelle Carter, and Staff Writers Andrea Chang and Amy Scattergood.
“From our vantage point in Los Angeles – one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse cities in the world – we are uniquely able to tell the story of California food, cooking, and dining,” said Times Executive Editor Norman Pearlstine. “Today’s announcements demonstrate our continuing commitment to expand our coverage and our ability to attract some of the world’s best food writers and critics.”
“We are thrilled to bring Bill Addison’s authoritative voice and enthusiasm for L.A.’s enviable dining scene to our readers,” said Senior Deputy Managing Editor Kimi Yoshino, who is overseeing the coverage. “Patricia Escárcega is a talented food critic who grew up in Southern California and we can’t wait to see her take on the traditions and innovations that define Los Angeles.”
Addison has been the national critic at Eater since 2014 and compiled many of the food site’s popular best-of restaurant lists. His most recent lineup of America’s 38 Essential Restaurants included four in L.A.: Mariscos Jalisco, Park’s BBQ, Here’s Looking at You and n/naka. He previously reviewed restaurants for Atlanta magazine, the Dallas Morning News and the San Francisco Chronicle.
“I can think of no other city I’d rather call home than Los Angeles, because Los Angeles is the capital of American food in the 21st century,” Addison said. “It’s where so much is happening that steers the conversation of what we think about with food today, and how it reflects who we are and how we relate to one another through dining.”
Escárcega is a food writer at the Arizona Republic and was the restaurant reviewer at the Phoenix New Times, an alt weekly, for three years. The job will be a homecoming of sorts for Escárcega, who was born and raised in Riverside. Escárcega and Addison will bring weekly restaurant criticism back to The Times, which has been missing since the death of critic Jonathan Gold.
“Jonathan Gold was a longtime writing hero of mine, and what I enjoyed was how deeply omnivorous and egalitarian he was,” said Escárcega. “He would eat anything and anywhere, and I really admired the way he acknowledged that no one food is better than another. That’s pretty much my ethos.”
“Food and dining is a huge part of how people express and experience culture,” continued Yoshino. “Lucas Peterson will help us expand how we cover this vital subject, and make our coverage and the many cuisines represented in Los Angeles more accessible.”
In addition to hosting “Dining on a Dime” and writing the Frugal Traveler column, Peterson is a “Jeopardy” champion and former actor. He has traveled extensively, seeking out affordable and exotic meals, and speaks multiple languages, including Mandarin, Spanish and German.
“I am very excited to be joining the food team at the L.A. Times in what is a renaissance of sorts for this beloved institution,” said Peterson. “I am truly looking forward to helping improve the already outstanding coverage of L.A.’s incredible food scene and bring some new dimensions to our coverage including different video and multimedia projects.”
The hiring of Addison, Escárcega and Peterson represents a significant expansion of the Los Angeles Times’ coverage of food, dining and cooking. The Times is currently developing additional platforms to produce and share coverage and building a new state-of-the-art test kitchen. In addition, Times food coverage extends to its signature food festivals – The Taste and Food Bowl – as well as several live events, video projects and radio appearances throughout the year. Over the next several months, The Times plans to continue expansion of its food coverage and staff across multiple platforms and to regions across California and the West.