He’s tackled the Porno Burrito, faced down the city’s toughest
maitre d’s, scouted out street-side taco carts at midnight, slurped the
San Gabriel Valley’s spiciest noodles and experienced every possible
sensation of smoke and char and animal in a single thin slice of
astronomically expensive Kyushu rib eye. Now Jonathan Gold, the L.A. Weekly’s restaurant critic, has won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism. This is the first Pulitzer Prize for the L.A. Weekly and the first time a restaurant critic has won the distinguished award.

“From
Brillat-Savarin to M.F.K. Fisher to Jonathan Gold, there is a tradition
of writers who understand the value of fine food and strong drink,”
said Michael Lacey, executive editor of Village Voice Media, which owns
the L.A. Weekly. “Jonathan’s particular brilliance is that he
is as likely to illustrate this notion with a pushcart vendor as a
sushi chef. And like many of our best critics, he is a cultural
omnivore who can write captivatingly about almost anything. His gift to
us is that he chose food.”

Gold started out at the L.A. Weekly
in 1982 as a proofreader while he was studying art and music at UCLA,
and by the mid-’80s became one of the paper’s most popular writers.
He’s had several jobs at the Weekly over the years, from
caption guru to editor of several of the paper’s Best of L.A. issues.
As music editor in the ’80s, he wrote groundbreaking pieces about
new-music composers, thrash metal and the L.A. rap scene just as it was
going national: Boulez, Metallica and N.W.A. But restaurant criticism
is where he really captured people’s imagination in the city. With the
encouragement of Weekly founder Jay Levin, he started his
Counter Intelligence column in 1986 as a way of exploring Los Angeles’
ethnic neighborhoods, places that often go underreported in other
papers. He took the column to the L.A. Times from 1990 to 1996, all the while writing “proper” restaurant reviews of high-end places in California and Los Angeles magazines, as well as music stories for Spin, Rolling Stone and Details. In 1999, he left Los Angeles to become Gourmet magazine’s
New York restaurant critic and was the first food writer to be honored
as a National Magazine Award finalist in criticism by the American
Society of Magazine Editors. In 2001, he moved back to Los Angeles,
where he revived Counter Intelligence for the Weekly while continuing to write for Gourmet.

“This
is a sweet victory on so many levels,” said editor in chief Laurie
Ochoa, who has been married to Gold since 1990 (they met at the Weekly in 1984). “I love that even as Jonathan established a national reputation, he continued to call the Weekly home.”

“We are very honored to win our first Pulitzer and very proud of Jonathan Gold,” said L.A. Weekly
publisher Beth Sestanovich. “Our criticism of the arts, music scene,
film and, of course, food and drink has been acknowledged by many other
awards over the years, and we are thrilled to add a Pulitzer to that
list.”

“Alternative papers are beginning to get the respect
they’ve earned,” Lacey told the Associated Press on Monday. “If I had
cigars, I’d be passing them out right now.”

“What this represents,” said Gold, “is the triumph of the proofreader.”

A selection of Jonathan Gold's recent columns:

{mosimage} Hare Today
 
Out of the Flames 

Devil's Own Steak House 

The Great White Duck  

Home of the Porno Burrito 

Cool Hunting 

L.A. Simonized  

Claws and Effect 

Bring The Funk 

Flesh and Bone 

(From left): Pandora Young, Tom Christie, Jonathan Gold, Joe Donnelly and Beth Sestanovich
(Photos by Rena Kosnett)

Jonathan Gold enjoys a sip

Pulitzer-winner Jonathan Gold, Editor in chief Laurie Ochoa and Publisher Beth Sestanovich
(Photos by Rena Kosnett)

Click here to read Jonathan Gold's latest columns