In a city with endless dining options, Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold’s mission is to steer people away from big restaurant chains and generic guidebook recommendations, and expose them to the tucked-away places a tourist would never think to go.
In his new documentary City of Gold, viewers are taken into the delicious world of Los Angeles food: where to order it, the traditions behind it and the people who are making it.
Pulitzer Prize-winning Gold finds the mom and pop shops with years of tradition in the heart of Los Angeles.
“The thing that people find hard to understand, I think, is the magnitude of what’s here,” Gold says in the film. “The huge number of multiple cultures who live in the city, that come together in this beautiful and half haphazard fashion.”
His newspaper reviews, which readers have been digesting for over 30 years, often highlight places that aren’t always on the L.A. hot list—well, until he shines a light on them.
David Chang, chef and founder of the popular Momofuku restaurants, says even he once thought he found a hidden, off-the-beaten-path Korean restaurant until he discovered Gold’s review hanging on the wall.
“He knows every place. I don’t know how he does it,” Chang says in the film.
The documentary also shows the secret lifestyle of being a food critic. To prevent his identity from being discovered by staff (and ultimately affecting his service at the restaurant), Gold says he has used a number of different names and has had a whole series of “throwaway phones” just to use the number for a reservation.
“It’s kind of like the fat man’s version of Bourne Identity,” he jokes.
City of Gold is now in theaters.