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Scene Report: The New Jonathan Gold Plaque at Grand Central Market is Adorned With Tacos, Ramen, Pizza

12:14 AM PDT on August 27, 2018

[dropcap size=big]A[/dropcap]n upright taco, a pizza with a slice missing, and a bowl of ramen with chopsticks sticking up adorn the edge of a new plaque dedicated to the late Los Angeles food critic Jonathan Gold.

The plaque will be placed at a new Jonathan Gold Plaza, set on the Broadway side of Grand Central Market, on the sidewalk between two light posts painted in gold and decorated with a motif of Gold’s profile. (It was unclear if the inner trim on the plaque depicts churros, but we are seeking confirmation.)

City Councilman Jose Huizar at the unveiling on Sunday said eventually the sidewalk will contain “sparkles” to help mark the plaza. Adam Daneshgar, the recent new owner of Grand Central Market, said that when he met Gold, the food critic told him, “I come here everyday.”

The L.A. entrepreneur said he often saw Gold wandering the aisles, which in recent years has seen a combination of classic and new establishments challenging the identity of the 101-year-old food market.

The modest plaque dedication, attended by Gold’s family and fellow food journalists, restaurateurs, and friends, marked an #LAGold day in downtownHundreds of people gathered at Grand Park for a public memorial celebration that featured previously unreleased scenes from the 2015 documentary “City of Gold,” by director Laura Gabbert.

Mark Gold, Jonathan’s brother and a research vice chancellor for the environment at UCLA, read from the Jonathan op-ed column that was critical in leading to the California ban on shark fin — a beloved feature of Cantonese seafood, which Gold of course had once loved. Jonathan sealed the deal by decrying the “bitter taste of extinction,” should the practice have persisted.

RELATED: Jonathan Gold, Ambassador of L.A. Cuisines, Has Died

Hundreds attended at Grand Park/Photos by Daniel Hernandez.

Several chefs told a deeply engaged and loving audience that Gold revolutionized their lives with his writing, including Bricia Lopez of Guelaguetza, and Michael Cimarusti of Providence, who opened his remarks by saying, “If you already knew my name before I was introduced, I have Jonathan Gold to thank for that.”

“My dad said ‘I don’t feel like I ever did enough to repay him,’” Lopez said, describing the tears she shared with her father Fernando Lopez, Sr., the night she informed him Gold had passed. “We owe him our lives.”

In the new clips screened at the memorial, Gold takes the crew to a now-lost pho place he loved in South El Monte, where he reflects: “That’s one of the most important questions, Why am I eating this? And often, there isn’t a compelling answer.”

'I want to thank all the cooks.'

In another, Gold speaks at length about eggs. He talks about how much he despises eggs, but how he knows how to cook them to the liking of each member of his family, editor Laurie Ochoa, his wife, “Izzie,” their daughter Isabel, and Leon, their son.

“I have a lot to say about eggs,” Gold says in the clip. “I’ve been doing this long enough that I can recognize the greatness of the egg, and it’s part of what I do, but I don’t want to eat it.”

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]he Gold memorials on Sunday reflected the deep admiration that his readers and food-lovers across the country shared for his work. He rewrote the art of food writing, and made it a prize-winning prism from which to read and map Los Angeles in a way that honored cooks, taco cart guys, and family operations as equally as high-end chefs and other sorts of food personalities.

Immigrants — their practices, their customs, their ambition and gut — were always central characters in Gold’s stories. At Sunday's memorial, food trucks on the edge of Grand Park included Carnitas El Momo, Kogi BBQ, and Los Originales Tacos Arabes de Puebla. Trucks were also the stars at the family farewell held at Hollywood Forever, a week after Gold's death.

Family and friends were on hand for the plaque dedication.
Family and friends were on hand for the plaque dedication/Photos by Daniel Hernandez.

The outpouring of gratitude by chefs whose work Gold admired and presented to the public was also a reminder of the void left by Gold’s death on July 21, at age 57.

With Los Angeles media in flux and battered by years of mismanagement scandals and cutbacks, the ranks of locally grown food writers who could potentially help fill the late Gold’s shoes at the leading West Coast metropolitan daily are gut-punching thin.

The Gold motif.

Earlier in the day, the passion and fire that drove Jonathan Gold's work was evident in some of the brief remarks by his family. “I want to thank all the cooks,” young Mr. Leon Gold said from the podium at the plaque unveiling at Grand Central Market.

Sounding and looking a bit like both his mother and father, Gold spoke emphatically. “Because honestly, he wouldn’t be able to write all the things he wrote about, if there wasn’t someone there to make it,” he said.

RELATED: One Chef's Day: What It Was Like to Cater at Jonathan Gold's Family Farewell

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