“City of Gold” is a deliciously informative documentary about the legendary LA restaurant critic Jonathan Gold. The film delves into who Gold is, where he came from, and his unlikely yet entertaining path that lead to his career as an inspirational writer of all things edible. And I mean all.
Written and directed by Laura Gabbert, the film takes us inside the home and mind of Gold as we discover the roots of this seemingly ordinary man. We learn that outside appearances can be deceiving as Gold’s rich knowledge base and palate are truly extraordinary. Gold talks candidly about his upbringing in a diverse neighborhood in LA and he passionately shares historical events that changed the palate of the neighborhoods and himself. Gold’s personality shines brightly in this film as he sets an example as to what a critic (in any arena) should be like. He’s charismatic and charming which is obvious as soon as we see him enter one of the many restaurants showcased in this film. Gold expresses true love of not just food, but of the people who create the food. From food trucks to ethnic little hole in the walls, Gold discovers the best of the best and with “City of Gold,” the viewer gets to experience a taste of what he does.
As a film critic writing about a food critic’s film, the task is a bit daunting. But it’s also quite inspirational. Gold’s persona is truly down-to-earth and caring. It’s apparent by his interactions and interviews with those that know him, that he is a positive person who focuses on just that. He “makes” not “breaks” restaurants. His writing style is such that you can almost taste the words he writes as he incorporates his former love of music into his reviews. For example, he compares an aria to a well cooked potato—this is silky and smooth on my palate as I envision this.
How does a former musician of punk rock find his way into LA and create food criticism about food trucks? He has an unbelievably refined palate that isn’t concerned about the white linen table clothes and the over ambitious waiters who fold your napkin properly when you leave to use the restroom. He’s about the food. Period. He is described as being “disruptive” to the previously accepted style of food criticism. In the film world it would be like a film critic focusing on indies. Hmmmm…Imagine that! Where he initially was considered a rebel in food criticism, he is now the “gold” standard.
“City of Gold” is an exploration of LA neighborhoods and the delicious ethnic delights that await and Gold is our tour guide. It’s an inspirational story that finds food as a way to connect people no matter their background. Why should we care about an LA restaurant critic? Because he sets an example of who we should be as people. His love for his community and the people who comprise it awakens a sense of compassion and the value in diversity. Perhaps you’ll be a little more adventuresome in your food and restaurant choices after seeing this film, but most importantly, perhaps you’ll see those around you in a more accepting and loving way.
CITY OF GOLD is playing at the Century Landmark Theatre with a Q&A following tonight’s 7:15 screening. For more information, go to www.landmarktheatres.com