In 2007, Jonathan Gold, the iconic restaurant critic of the LA Weekly, became the first such critic to win the Pulitzer Prize. Although he covers all types of cuisine, Gold often chooses small, ethnic restaurants for his reviews. A collection of his articles can be found in his book, Counter Intelligence: Where to Eat in the Real Los Angeles.
Gold started out at the LA Weekly in 1982 as a proofreader while he was studying art and music UCLA and by the mid-’80s became one of the paper’s most popular writers. He has had several jobs at the Weekly over the years, from caption guru to editor of several of the paper’s Best of LA issues. As music editor in the ’80s, he wrote groundbreaking pieces about new-music composers, thrash metal and the LA rap scene.
But restaurant criticism is where he 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 Los Angeles Times from 1990 to 1996, while also writing restaurant reviews of high-end places in California and Los Angeles magazines, as well as music stories for Blender, 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 LA Weekly while continuing to write for Gourmet.
He is married to Laurie Ochoa, editor of the new LA literary quarterly Slake and formerly editor-in-chief at LA Weekly and executive editor of Gourmet.