Dishing with Gold

May 8, 2016

Union-Pasadena_Front_porchetta-1 (1)“In a lot of ways, I think food is starting to take the place in (our) culture that rock and roll took 30 years ago.”

—Jonathan Gold

Have you seen City of Gold yet? If yes, yes? What did you think? If no, why not? Go. Go! Because how could a movie about food make us want to sob?

Writer and Director Laura Gabbert, cinematographers Jerry Henry and Goro Toshiba, editors William Haugse and Greg King, and the entire crew of City of Gold have created an occasion—and they’ve invited us—to see our city of L. A. through different senses—by tagging along with Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic and writer for the L. A. Times Jonathan Gold.

We are brought into Gold’s home as he sits, his fingers tapping the keys of his laptop while the screen remains empty. Later in the film, we see several interactions between Gold and his editors who frankly share how pulling copy out of their star food critic is a job for the persistent and patient, though they often feel like “stalkery teenagers.”

The articles that have widened the epicurean world of Los Angeles to the very Angelenos who live here, do not  emerge effortlessly from Gold’s fingertips. Perhaps Gold is like many writers where words feel stuck inside—a fog in the brain, an annoyance in the shoulder blade, and a weighted presence in the gut. We find words come at their own speed, indifferent to deadlines. We shall thank Gold’s employers that they, however reluctantly, provide the maximum amount of space and time for his words to stew, simmer and digest before effectively being brought to the page, then shared with eager millions.


Photo: City of Gold

Photo: City of Gold


In the film, Gold climbs into his massive green Dodge Ram pickup truck and hits the L. A. streets, from Little Ethiopia along the Fairfax corridor north of the 10/south of Olympic to tucked away mini-malls and shifting taco trucks from San Gabriel Valley to Long Beach. Viewers follow him into family-owned restaurants and hear stories of emigration, adversity, and challenge. We hear from these restauranteurs, maybe cooking grandma’s recipes from the home country, about how a positive review from Gold turned their establishment from a neighborhood entity that allowed them to survive to a thriving business with folks from all over city waiting in line for a new adventure in cuisine.

Several reviews, most notably in Variety and Rolling Stone, grumble about the omission of the effects of Gold’s negative reviews, which we had not considered as we don’t regularly read food columns. In City of Gold, Gabbert has chosen the path of admiration and joy.


Guerilla Tacos, no. 13 on Gold's 101 Best Restaurants list of 2015

Guerilla Tacos, no. 13 on Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants list of 2015; publicity photo


The most angst in the film comes from Gold’s difficulty with procrastination and butting against his editors’ expectations and deadlines. Otherwise, City of Gold is a visual and auditory gift. (Kudos to Bobby Johnston’s marvelous original score.) In these days of increasingly blatant and proudly expressed xenophobia, the stories of immigrants (now resident Angelenos) and Gold’s ability to draw natives to their doors through a food review is moving and wondrous. We theorize that all of the official outreach programs and efforts to promote respect and understanding in our often intolerant and judgmental City of Angels have not been as effective as Gold’s decades of food reviews. His passion and words lure us to step outside our neighborhoods—and culinary safe-zone—and into L. A.’s numerous worlds within worlds. And, as we all know, enjoying a meal is the age-old method for dissolving boundaries and building bridges—where the unfamiliar becomes known, and often favored.


Meals by Genet in Little Ethiopia, S. Fairfax Ave., no.

Meals by Genet in Little Ethiopia, S. Fairfax Ave., no. 61 on Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants list of 2015; publicity photo


Thank you, Laura Gabbert and Jonathan Gold, for City of Gold. We’ve never loved our city so much.

On May 14, come hear Gold at a free event: “Dishing with Jonathan Gold.”


Meringue pavlova from Lincoln, Gold's no.96 , Pasadena; publicity photo

Meringue pavlova from Lincoln, Gold’s no. 96, Pasadena; publicity photo



Dishing with Jonathan Gold
Saturday, May 14th, 3 p.m. reception, 4 p.m. conversation and Q&A
Pasadena Central Library, 285 E. Walnut St., Pasadena
Free event, but RSVP requested
Call Christine Reeder at 1.626.744.7076
Or email

Please note: We’ve just been informed that a large turnout is expected and seating is limited, so free tickets will be handed out on a first come, first served basis beginning at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 14 at the Central Library’s south entry (Walnut Street entrance). Doors open to the auditorium at 3:30 p.m., though the reception begins at 3 p.m. and the conversation begins at 4 p.m.

Photo, top right, Union Pasadena, no. 101.


Golden Deli; publicity photo

Golden Deli, San Gabriel, Gold’s no. 98; publicity photo


San Gabriel Valley restaurants on “The List,” Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants for 2015:
—No. 29: Chengdu Taste, 828 W. Valley Blvd., Alhambra. Phone: 626.588.2284. $$
—No. 42: Adana, 6918 San Fernando Road, Glendale. $$
—No. 63: Sea Harbor, 3939 Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead. Phone: 626.288.3939. $$
—No. 65: Din Tai Fung, 177 Caruso Ave., Glendale. $
—No. 67: Shanghai No. 1 Seafood Village, 250 W. Valley Blvd., San Gabriel. Phone: 626.282.1777. $$
—No. 78: Ración, 119 W. Green St., Pasadena. $$$
—No. 84: Tumanyan Khinkali Factory, 113 N. Maryland Ave., Glendale. $$
—No. 96: Lincoln, 1992 Lincoln Ave., Pasadena. $
—No. 97: Wang Xing Ji, 140 W. Valley Blvd., San Gabriel. Phone: 626.307.1188. $
—No. 98: Golden Deli, 815 W. Las Tunas Dr., San Gabriel. $
—No. 99: Szechuan Impression, 1900 W. Valley Blvd., Alhambra. Phone: 626.283.4622. $$
—No. 101: Union, 37 E. Union St., Pasadena. $$$


Jonathan Gold at work

Jonathan Gold at work


Chef Samson Khechemyan of Adan Kebob, Glendale; Gold's no. ; publicity photo

Chef Samson Khechemyan of Adan Kebob, Glendale; Gold’s no. 84; publicity photo





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