Special Sauce: Jonathan Gold on How to Jonathan Gold Someone

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[Photograph: Sundance Institute]

"There just came a point where writing about yet another plate of pasta puttanesca became boring. I mean, how many ways are you going to describe a Caesar salad?" asks Jonathan Gold on this week's episode of Special Sauce. Gold, the only food writer to win a Pulitzer Prize for criticism, is known for his pioneering exploration of the sprawling Los Angeles food scene. His food writing career started with an offer to edit LA Weekly's restaurant issue in the '90s. From there, he went on to write for the Los Angeles Times and Gourmet. He's won 12 James Beard Awards and published Counter Intelligence, a fantastic LA eating guide. Documentary filmmaker Laura Gabbert also joined us in the studio to speak about her soon-to-be-released film, City of Gold, which follows Gold's neverending hunt for the best eats in LA.

Everyone knows that Gold is unapologetic about how far he'll travel for an interesting meal (see Mindy Kaling's tweets about the act of "Jonathan Gold"–ing someone). Gabbert's movie is full of long shots of Gold driving, highlighting how important cars are for the LA eater. "There are a lot of scenes in restaurants, obviously, there are a lot of scenes talking to chefs...but one of the important things that was teased out is the idea of the journey," Gold says. "In a lot of ways, the time in the car is as important as the time at the table."

In this episode of Special Sauce—which, I must warn you, is a bit NSFW, unless you're surrounded by some really adventurous eaters with good senses of humor—Gold, Gabbert, and I discuss our shared passion for music and why there might be a connection between music lovers and serious eaters. We also discuss how many restaurants Gold tries in order to find "the best" for his lists, and why our jobs are often more about the journey than finding the perfect bite.

Special Sauce is available on iTunes. You can also find the archive of all our episodes here on Serious Eats and on this RSS feed.