The first time I met Jonathan Gold in 2010 at the LA Street Food Fest.
News of your passing late Saturday night brought an intense wave of emotion over me. As I sat teary-faced on the kitchen floor, remembering all the witty things you’d written and said aloud, I wondered if I’d still be living in Los Angeles if it weren’t for you. There is no doubt in my mind that I gained a deeper understanding and appreciation for the city’s vast and varied landscape, and for the sheer diversity of its people, while seeking out the exceptional mom-and-pops and street food finds that you prolifically reviewed.
Through your magnificent gift of prose, you pushed and inspired me to see, taste, and experience Los Angeles. You’re the reason I fell in love with the city and didn’t ever want to leave it. You gave me the confidence to meet my neighbors and to explore the breadth of my community, one remarkable meal at a time.
Thank you for introducing me to the greatness of regional Chinese cooking. From Shandong’s beef rolls to Chongqing’s fried chicken, it mattered little that I didn’t speak Chinese when I had your reviews by my side. You showed me that the San Gabriel Valley, my very own backyard, could be a culinary playground, too.
Thank you for guiding me through Koreatown and its hectic network of double-decker strip malls and subterranean businesses. You taught me how to slip on thick, worn gloves to grill my own seafood over a flame-licked grill. You modeled how to wrap bossam like an expert. And you gave new meaning to K.F.C.—the “shattering, thin-skinned snap” of Korean fried chicken.
Thank you for your curiosity and zest for finding everything delicious hidden in plain sight, like the incredible biryani tucked away on a random block in Culver City and the otherworldly black sesame cream puffs at the out-of-the-way patisserie in Lomita. We all benefited from your tremendous gift for sniffing out the best stuff and your passion for sharing your discoveries.
And lastly, thank you for being my friend. It meant so much to me that you took the time to read Gastronomy and even recommended it to your fans. I will never forget the kindness and good humor you generously shared every time our paths crossed, whether it was on a panel discussion of some sort or an impromptu run-in at our local Pie ‘n Burger. Thank you for bringing me into your world.
You’re not just the belly of Los Angeles, Mr. Gold, you’re its heart and soul too. Thank you for everything.
With love, respect, and admiration,