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Gold lampposts, taco trucks and previously unseen 'City of Gold' footage: Hundreds gather to pay tribute to Jonathan Gold

Family, friends and fans of Jonathan Gold gathered in downtown Los Angeles on Sunday evening to celebrate the life of the late restaurant critic, who died July 21 of pancreatic cancer.

The event began at 5 p.m. with the dedication of a plaque and a pair of yellow lampposts honoring Gold outside the Broadway entrance to Grand Central Market, one of the writer’s favorite spots to grab lunch and pick up cheese and meats. The top of the newly painted lampposts feature medallions with a silhouette of Gold’s profile.

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Grand Central is “the perfect place to honor an icon,” Councilman Jose Huizar said in his remarks. In addition to the plaque and lampposts, he said, the sidewalk outside the market will be extended to form a small plaza and will be flecked with gold sparkles.

Gold was the Los Angeles Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning restaurant critic, writing about the city’s dining scene for The Times, L.A. Weekly and other publications since the 1980s. He was 57.

“I take solace in the fact that through this tribute, Jonathan Gold will continue to be at the market in spirit,” Grand Central Market owner Adam Daneshgar said.

Gold’s wife, Laurie Ochoa, as well as their children, 23-year-old Isabel and 15-year-old Leon, also briefly took the small stage to thank attendees.

The festivities then moved to the Grand Park performance lawn a few blocks away, where hundreds of people grabbed dinner from food trucks including Kogi BBQ, Carnitas El Momo and Los Originales Tacos Arabes de Puebla, and listened to remembrances as the sun set.

Hosted by The Times’ culture columnist Carolina Miranda, the roughly 90-minute free event featured speakers including KCRW’s Evan Kleiman, whose “Good Food” show Gold appeared on weekly; Mark Gold, one of his younger brothers; Bricia Lopez, co-proprietor of Oaxacan restaurant Guelaguetza; and chefs Michael Cimarusti of Providence and Sang Yoon of Lukshon.

“I’ll never forget the first time he came to review Lukshon,” Yoon said, recalling that Gold arrived for a 9:45 p.m. reservation on a Wednesday night in September 2011 under the name George Green. “As soon as his feet crossed our threshold, our entire staff went into full sphincter-clench mode. Nobody breathed for two hours.”

Yoon went on to say that Gold was “a pioneer, a leader and a crusader for our city” who dined in every neighborhood and “represented all of us equally.”

“Jonathan understood the strength of our city was because of — and not in spite of — our diverse, strong immigrant communities,” he said, eliciting cheers and sustained applause from the crowd. “Jonathan showed us that a city without prejudice is a delicious place to be.”

One of the highlights was a screening of about 25 minutes of previously unseen footage from “City of Gold,” Laura Gabbert’s 2015 documentary that followed the legendary critic as he ate his way through Los Angeles and reflected on the city where he was born and raised. In one scene, Gold expounded on his longtime dislike of eggs, an aversion that began in childhood.

Gold will also be honored at The Times’ annual Taste food festival held over Labor Day weekend. Details on those special tributes can be found here.

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