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Opinion

Readers React: Jonathan Gold ‘could have written about L.A.'s smog and made it seem appetizing’

Jonathan Gold, restaurant critic for the Los Angeles Times.
Jonathan Gold, restaurant critic for the Los Angeles Times, in 2014.
(Anne Fishbein)

To the editor: “Brilliant” is the best word I could use to describe the late Los Angeles Times restaurant critic Jonathan Gold’s writing and career.

I first picked up the LA Weekly in the early 1980s as a student at UCLA; when Gold joined the staff a few years later, he became my favorite because of his insightful writing style. I always picked up the Weekly for so many years just to make sure I read his pieces, no matter the subject. The writing was always tight, but so incredibly descriptive. It is a difficult skill to master, and he was a master of it.

I have saved many of Gold’s 99 Essential Restaurants sections from the LA Weekly (and his 101 Best Restaurants in the L.A. Times) because there was no one who I could trust more when needing to find a great place to eat. When I took a food writing class through UCLA Extension, it was the biggest thrill when he was the guest speaker. He was very modest about his own skills, but so wonderfully perceptive and passionate about food and restaurants.

Gold could have written about L.A.’s smog and made it seem appetizing, though he never would have because he always had truth in his writing. There will never be another food critic like him.

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I hope there are fabulous food trucks wherever Gold is. He deserves to eat like a king for eternity.

Lea Bean, Santa Ana

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To the editor: In 1992, Gold wrote an article about Bakersfield in The Times and recommended its Hotel Noriega for Basque food. When I next found myself in that city, I reluctantly tried out the restaurant because I wasn’t sure if dining communally with strangers would appeal to me.

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But my experience there turned out to be so satisfying that the restaurant has become a mandatory stop on my yearly trek to visit relatives in Northern California. I love being seated at one of Noriega’s communal tables, passing delicious dishes to new acquaintances and chatting with them, learning their backgrounds and experiences.

I have been going to Hotel Noriega regularly for 25 years now and wouldn’t think of missing this heartwarming opportunity to break bread with strangers. I will toast Gold during my next visit to Bakersfield.

Rickard Roudebush, Long Beach

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To the editor: Gold’s passing is a great loss for The Times as well as for the people who read his thoughtful, well-written reviews of the wonderful restaurants we are lucky to have in our great city.

I met Gold at this year’s L.A. Times Food Bowl when he appeared with Nadine Levy Redzepi, who was signing copies of her book, “Downtime: Deliciousness at Home.” I recall asking him which taco stall to try, and he seemed to hesitate and looked a bit dismayed but then offered a suggestion. Thinking back to that exchange, he probably thought it a little strange that I would ask him to pick one since he was probably instrumental in bringing all these small restaurants to the Food Bowl. I am sure he appreciated them all for different reasons.

I hope there are fabulous food trucks wherever Gold is. He deserves to eat like a king for eternity.
Lea Bean, Santa Ana

Saturday’s newspaper will not be the same without his erudite writing. It was because of his ability to connect us all through food in far-flung areas that Los Angeles has become the greatest city in which to dine and live. As a native New Yorker, I am proud to say, “I love L.A.”

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Gold signed my copy of the 101 Best Restaurants, “Eat well always.” Amen.

Rena Leeds, Los Angeles

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To the editor: I am 72 years old. When I was young, Julia Child taught me that food could be French high culture. From Gold, I learned that food was our culture.

Even now, though I eat out less, I notice down the street when a Thai-Mexican take-out opens or a Mexican Sushi bar swims to the surface and then takes a dive and is replaced by a Mexican mariscos restaurant.

When I do revisit favorites like the Kobee Factory — a tiny, woman-operated delight — I think of Gold and how he mapped Los Angeles for me and made me appreciate the joys all around us.

Lynne Culp, Valley Glen

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To the editor: From my own experience, I can say this about Gold: He was a pathfinder. With his lack of fear of foreign food and neighborhoods I would think twice about visiting, he showed me the way from his early days at the LA Weekly and his time at The Times.

As someone who spent 23 years in working in restaurants both very good and not so good, I appreciated this man and his writing.

Ray Caccioli, Valley Village

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To the editor: Food-wise, I am not as adventurous as Gold and his fans. But I am a proud Angeleno, and this man seemed to know and appreciate every inch of this city and its inhabitants.

Much appreciation back at you, Mr. Gold.

Laura Owen, Pacific Palisades

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