Anatomy of a Movie #4: City of Gold (2016). RIP Jonathan Gold.

The 2016 Laura Gabbert documentary on the late LA food critic Jonathan Gold ("City of Gold" on Amazon) was pure joy to watch - for many reasons. 

First, Gold was full of life at the time and appropriately served as the film's centerpiece. That sometimes doesn't happen when such films are made about subjects posthumously. 

Next, we were humbled by his encyclopedic knowledge of food cultures, histories and geographies. We also learned, however, of his comparable expertise in classical music, punk rock and LA hip hop, which all enthusiastically informed and inspired his food criticism for LA Weekly and the LA Times. 

Third, we're again reminded of the importance of truly great writing. Gold was a superb writer, first and foremost, and treated his craft with the utmost respect it deserves and is too often lacking these days. To write well is to think well. And the fact that he was the first person ever to receive a Pulitzer Prize as a restaurant critic speaks volumes about his journalistic capability and integrity.

Fourth, Gold was an indefatigably curious adventurer. He personified an open-minded, respectful and inquisitive approach to travel and culture that has long resonated with me. In his tribute to the late Anthony Bourdain, Food & Wine Editor Hunter Lewis wrote in the August issue that, "Curiosity is more powerful than divisive, isolationist jingoism." Gold understood this. As the United States moves through this period of unfounded fear and ignorance of "the other," we have lost in Bourdain and Gold two important advocates for respectful cultural curiosity. 

Fifth, Gold vividly reminded us that we cannot fulfill the promise (and joy) of America without immigration. I came close to tears on several occasions watching the film, learning the stories of LA immigrant families arriving here with nothing, building their restaurants, putting their kids through college and finding an American Dream born of decency and very hard work - and sometimes, a sterling Jonathan Gold review. As with Bourdain, Gold reminded us that we simply would not be able to run today's U.S. restaurant industry without the legendary work ethic and countless contributions of immigrants who travel here from Mexico and Central America. 

Finally, the film reminded us why LA ranks among the handful of our favorite food cities and may we'll be the most exciting of them these days in terms of emerging young chefs, diversity and creativity. 

Jonathan Gold was a great guy whose big heart and even larger intellect was a source of wonderment for us all. He will be sorely missed.  

 Image courtesy of