As an homage to food writer Jonathan Gold and his 1998 L.A. Weekly story “The Year I Ate Pico Blvd.,” his iconic bowler hat image has been immortalized by muralist Jeanine Hattas Wilson on a sprawling gray wall at the intersection of Pico and Barrington Avenue in West Los Angeles.
“I love when a mural represents the community in which it's painted,” Hattas Wilson tells L.A. Weekly. “Since a mural can only be seen in one location, it's powerful to stand on Pico, read about Pico and remember a beloved community member so important to Pico. It was an honor to be a part of such an important dedication.”
To help inaugurate the artwork, a special evening to raise funds for the Gold family was hosted by Brad Metzger, whose company is a Southern California–based hospitality recruitment and placement firm representing restaurants and whose exterior office walls serve as Hattas Wilson’s canvas.
“So many of our careers in the local restaurant business would have been so different if it wasn’t for Jonathan Gold,” Metzger told his guests. “I didn’t realize the impact until he was gone.”
The evening started with a public Together With Tacos on Pico event, where free Trejo's Tacos were handed out to the first 200 attendees. Then friends of Gold's including Jar’s Suzanne Tracht, Border Grill’s Mary Sue Milliken and Lucques master mixologist Christiaan Rollich lined up to buy raffle tickets to benefit the Family of Jonathan Gold GoFundMe campaign while exchanging heartfelt memories of Gold with others like journalist Margy Rochlin.
Prizes included a Howlin Ray’s “Jump the Line” pass, gift cards to Rustic Canyon, Michael’s and Pizzeria Mozza, and a free class at the Gourmandise Cooking School.
Tracht and Gold’s longtime photographer sidekick, Anne Fishbein, reminisced about his famous Pasadena backyard.
“When Jonathan moved to Pasadena, at one of his get-togethers, I was attracted to the giant, enormous kumquat tree that produced thousands of kumquats over the years,” Tracht recalled. “When foie gras came back and was legal again, he brought me all these kumquats and brought [wife] Laurie [Ochoa] in and we ate foie gras with kumquats and drank kumquat cocktails with gin.”
“Even when there was a local kumquat shortage, Jonathan and Laurie’s tree was always full and laden with fruit,” Fishbein shared. “I spent one of my first parties there just picking kumquats. His Meyer lemon tree is just as prolific.”
Spago provided tamales and brownies for the memorial celebration and Lawry’s brought in one of its signature prime rib carving carts. There was a selection of Pitfire pizzas to go with wine donated by San Antonio Winery and Lucques.
Gold’s widow, journalist and former L.A. Weekly editor Laurie Ochoa, and children Isabel and Leon were on a road trip to Chicago, to retrieve Isabel’s cello from college and reflect on the Gold legacy.
“This all just happened so incredibly quickly, none of us really knew how sick Jonathan was, and to pass so fast,” Milliken said. “He was the most incredibly generous person on the planet. No matter what time of day or night, he would always be there for you immediately. You can only imagine how hard it must be for Isabel, Laurie and Leon.”
The mural is located at 11705 Pico Blvd. in West L.A. Donations can be made to gofundme.com/for-the-family-of-jonathan-gold.
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