Laura Gabbert directed 2016 film about LA native who preferred street food and neighborhood joints to tony restaurants: 'I can't imagine the city without him'
Jonathan Gold, the only food critic to have won the Pulitzer Prize, died Saturday at age 57, according to the Los Angeles Times where he had been employed since 2012. The cause was pancreatic cancer, the Times reported, noting that Gold was diagnosed with the disease less than three weeks ago.
The LA native, who took an ecumenical approach to the city's cuisine -- favoring taco stands and pupserias over posh Beverly Hills establishments -- was the subject of the 2016 documentary City of Gold, directed by Laura Gabbert. It documented his attempts to remain incognito while writing reviews -- originally for the LA Weekly before he joined the Times -- and how his culinary explorations served to elucidate the city's identity.
He really got that food was a gateway into the people, and that food could really define a community.
"I can’t imagine the city without him. It just feels wrong. I feel like we won’t have our guide, we won't have our soul,” Gabbert told the Times. “It’s such a loss. I can’t wrap my head around it.”
Those feelings were echoed on Twitter. Actor Ike Barinholtz wrote, "Loved Jonathan Gold’s writing and spirit. Watch his documentary City of Gold, most uncynical movie about LA. RIP."
Elijah Wood and BJ Novak were among the other actors expressing their shock. Novak tweeted, "When I first moved to Los Angeles, Jonathan Gold's book 'Counter Intelligence' is what taught me to see it as a city of neighborhoods and people. If you are interested to learn why he meant so much to people, the documentary "City of Gold" beautifully captures his spirit."
Phil Rosenthal, creator of the television series Everybody Loves Raymond, tweeted, "Our greatest food writer, and a personal hero, friend and inspiration, has passed way too soon."
City of Gold made more than $600,000 during its theatrical release, according to Box Office Mojo. Gabbert's film is available for viewing on YouTube. The DVD is listed as "temporarily out of stock" on Amazon.
Watch the trailer here:
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.