Jonathan Gold, the legendary food critic whose work broadened and defined Los Angeles’ culinary scene, died from pancreatic cancer Saturday night, the Los Angeles Times reports. He was 57.
Gold’s career in journalism began in the 1980s at LA Weekly, where his “Counter Intelligence” column chronicled the parts of Los Angeles usually ignored by food writers, from strip mall sushi to taco trucks. He was always more interested in seeking out unlikely gems than celebrating the already-celebrated: In his early 20s, he set out to try every restaurant on Pico Boulevard, a street whose chief culinary distinctions were length, variety, and obscurity.
In the ensuing decades, Gold bounced back and forth between LA Weekly and the Los Angeles Times, writing eloquent reviews that collapsed the distinctions between fine dining and fast food while chronicling the life of his sprawling city. He won the Pulitzer Prize in criticism in 2007, becoming the first food critic to do so. In a 2012 interview with Vice, Gold described his mission like this:
I write about taco stands and fancy French restaurants to try to get people less afraid of their neighbors and to live in their entire city instead of sticking to their one part of town.
Gold is survived by his wife, journalist Laurie Ochoa, and their two children, Isabel and Leon.