There's the caricature of a influential food critic—reservations sneakily made under false names; thunderous reviews that determine the fate of restaurants—and then somewhere slightly left of center, there is the picture of journalist Jonathan Gold. The Los Angeles-based writer does indeed use fake names now and then, and his endorsement can certainly pack a room, but there's an element of humanity in his work that makes it more an act of community service than a power move.
That's probably because Jonathan Gold goes out of his way not to confirm the talent of elite chefs, but to discover unknown talent hidden in plain sight, often making successes of businesses with little in the way of an advertising budget. For her documentary about Gold's work, City of Gold, out next Friday, director Laura Gabbert and her crew accompanied Gold to many of the strip malls, delis, and other unlikely locales where he finds his favorite places to eat—and very quickly discovered what makes them so special.
Here, Gabbert shares some of her favorite places she encountered while rolling around L.A. with Jonathan Gold.