LA chefs remember Jonathan Gold

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When Jonathan Gold passed away last July, there was an outpouring of grief and gratitude across the city, particularly among chefs. Some of them shared how Jonathan’s work changed their lives.

Sang Yoon: “Jonathan Gold was my unofficial father. Thinking back to Jonathan’s first review of me, I really didn’t think he liked me. That kind of stirred me in the right way. I thought wow, I’ve got to impress this guy. I’ve got to figure out a way for him to get to know what I’m really about. It took a long time, but I think the better part of two decades, he figured me out…

It’s not hyperbole to say I learned more about Koreatown from Jonathan Gold than I did from my own family… We would discuss Korean restaurants, sometimes argue about them. It was amazing to have such meaningful discussions about my own culture. And I really attribute a lot of the success of the Korean culture in LA to him lighting the pathway to us.”

Jet Tila: “Jonathan Gold was probably the most important person almost ever to really shine the light on the Thai community and Thai food, not just in LA, but in America. He really brought national, if not global eyeballs to Thai people’s plight from the 60s to now.”  

Roy Choi: “Jonathan, I love you, I miss you. You led us, you showed us, and you changed so many people’s lives… You also created a bridge for others to be able to eat our food, to understand our cultures. I just can’t believe you’re gone.” 

Jazz Sinsanong: “He is Los Angeles, you know?… Every time people come and eat food, the only thing I ask them is, ‘How do you know my place?’ They say, ‘Oh, we’re Jonathan Gold fans.’ "

Genet Agonafor: “Everybody knew I was on the verge of closing down… And when he came, everything just completely turned around, from having zero people to lines everywhere. Nothing for me would have happened without Jonathan.”

Raul Ortega: “I just love the way he presented himself. He was always very, very humble. Very nice. Very kind. Very soft-spoken. The writings that he did — amazing. I don’t know where he found all the words.”

Jordan Kahn: “To say he changed my life would be a gross understatement.”

*This segment originally aired on Dec 28, 2018. KCRW is sharing it again this weekend to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Jonathan Gold's passing.




Evan Kleiman