Let’s get to it…
The sad news – Per his own paper: “Jonathan Gold, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times restaurant critic who richly chronicled the city’s vast culinary landscape and made its food understandable and approachable to legions of fans, has died. He was 57. Gold died of pancreatic cancer at St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles [Saturday] evening, according to his wife, Times arts and entertainment editor Laurie Ochoa. He was diagnosed with the disease in early July.”
The NYT and many, many others also tried to sum up the facts and meaning of his life and work, but my favorite tribute by far is Eater’s rundown of his fellow food writers’ favorite J. Gold clips, with links to some of his best essays and reviews, including several non-food columns. Selections from Francis Lam, Gustavo Arellano, Jeff Gordinier, Julia Kramer, John Birdsall, Pete Wells, Helen Rosner, Gabriella Gershenson, Brett Martin, Kat Kinsman, Paolo Lucchesi, Brett Anderson, Charlotte Druckman, Tom Sietsema, Bill Addison, and more.
The LA Times also has some farewell quotes from chefs (Lefebvre, Singsanong, Centeno, Goin, Koslow, Yenbamroong, Avila, Hatfield, Choi, Yoon, Feniger, Arrington, Bottura, Redzepi, and Silverton) and on a fun, practical level, there’s this pairing of his essays with recipes. On hosting a Hanukkah party (latke recipe included): “And I will stagger into the dining room, knuckles bloodied, and hand you another platter of latkes. You will eat them until you plotz. This is the bargain we have made.”
Wish I’d had the chance to make that bargain.
And while it’s definitely too soon for the guessing game as to who might take over (will update my list of potential Bauer replacements for Friday), Farley Elliot did take stock of LA’s changing food media landscape for Eater: “It’s hard to think the Times would not inevitably fill the giant Gold void, yet both [Besha Rodell’s (LA Weekly) and Patric Kuh’s (LA Magazine)] roles have sat empty at their respective publications since leaving…”
The Job Description – Speaking of Mr. Bauer… “The Restaurant Critic is the most prominent media voice in one of the top dining destinations in the world. The Critic is a cultural thought leader, sparking and shaping how readers, chefs and makers understand the state of Bay Area dining.” Could that be you? Head on over to the SF Chronicle recruitment page and click Apply for Job. I did. (But only to try to see what the “Job Related Questions” section might hold. Unfortunately halfway through it disappeared and was replaced by “File Attachments”, so start prepping those pdf’s!)
P.S. – Eater DC is also seeking a new full-time Editor.
(Bar) Awards Season – The 12th annual Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards were presented in New Orleans on Saturday. A full list of winners is here. Some highlights are here: Best American Cocktail Bar: Lost Lake(Chicago); Best American Bar Team: Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply Co.(Miami); American Bartender of the Year: Yael Vengroff, The Spare Room(LA); Best New American Cocktail Bar: Navy Strength (Seattle); Best New Cocktail or Bartending Book: Meehan’s Bartender Manual by Jim Meehan(sometimes Hong Kong); Best New Book on Drinks Culture, History or Spirits: By the Smoke and the Smell by Thad Vogler (SF). And don’t let PR forget to congratulate this year’s Best Cocktail & Spirits Writer: M. Carrie Allan. Congrats, all!
In other NOLA / cocktail news… Neat Pour reports: “Chris Hannah To Depart French 75, Resurrect Jewel Of The South With Nick Detrich… The high profile bartenders just announced plans to team up with business partner John Stubbs to open Jewel of the South, a fine dining destination in NOLA’s French Quarter (1026 St. Louis St.) together this fall.”
Crowdfunding a Landmark – “Three Brooklyn restaurateurs have teamed up to rescue [a] 19th-century space on Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn; Gage & Tollner closed in 2004 after 112 years there, but the building’s interior, designated a landmark, still has its original lamps and wall-length mirrors. Their aim is to return it to its former glory as a grand chop-and-oyster house. The three will kick off their effort in a very 21st-century way, through a $600,000 capital campaign on Wefunder…. ‘We realized we didn’t know 12 people who could give us $100,000 a piece,’ said St. John Frizell, an owner of the Red Hook bar Fort Defiance. His partners are Sohui Kim and Ben Schneider, owners of the Good Fork, in Red Hook, and Insa, in the Gowanus area. ‘But we did know 600 who could give us $1,000 a piece.’” Details – and a bonus photo of nonpolitical gaslighting – in the NYT.
Fast Casual Dispatch – St. Louis empire-builder Gerard Craft (Sardella et al.) will close his fast casual Porano Pasta at the end of the month. He blamed it partly on “all of the amazing convention business [the city] lost this year.” Hopefully the bad business travel stats don’t impact his upcoming Cinder House in the Four Seasons STL.
The Suits – Chicago’s Four Corners restaurant group has been hit with a teeny-tiny wage theft class action: “We estimate there is more than $30 million dollars in unpaid tips that are owed to the bartenders and waitresses,” the plaintiffs’ council tells NBC5. Quoth the defendant: “Without merit”.
The Monologue Treatment – This fantastic Belinda Leong interview of Cecilia Chiang is one long, matter-of-fact reminder of both the unique contributions and unique patriotism of so many immigrants: “We had four restaurants one time. Two Mandarins, one here, one in Beverly Hills. And also we had two little Mandarette. Actually, Mandarette is kind of P.F. Chang’s. That’s how [my son] started that…. I’m 98. When I started… I was 30. In a foreign land. Didn’t know the background or the history of the USA. And that’s not very easy. But also I’m very grateful to the United States, because it’s hard. This would never happen in China or Japan for a foreigner. This [is] something I’m very thankful for…. That’s why now when I meet young people from China or somewhere else who want to start a business, if they need my help, I always help. I’ve sponsored 26 people: my niece and nephew, an MIT professor, also bankers, architects, doctors, and they’re all doing really well.”
For design fans – Oakland’s Farmhouse Kitchen bucks the succulents-and-green-danglers trend with walls covered in pink, white, and red roses. Yes, it’s being done elsewhere (and no it’s not my favorite), but after endless photo spreads of brass and wood shelves holding up potted cactus varieties, I almost forgot flowers existed.
And last but not least: The Playlist – “Ryuichi Sakamoto, the renowned musician and composer who lives in the West Village,” was a fan of everything about Kajitsu in Murray Hill except one thing, so one night, “He went home and composed an email to [then chef Hiroki Odo]. ‘I love your food, I respect you and I love this restaurant, but I hate the music,’ he remembered writing. ‘Who chose this? Whose decision of mixing this terrible roundup? Let me do it. Because your food is as good as the beauty of Katsura Rikyu.’ (He meant the thousand-year-old palatial villa in Kyoto, built to some degree on the aesthetic principles of imperfections and natural circumstances known as wabi-sabi.) ‘But the music in your restaurant is like Trump Tower.’” The playlist he came up with – all 47 songs – is included via Spotify about halfway through the full story in the NYT.
I listened while I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray.
And that’s it for today. Life is short and fragile. I’m off to write some fan letters.
P.S. – With the tough news and extra reading this week, I could not get my act together to switch email servers as mentioned on Friday. It’ll happen this week. So help me MailChimp.