What makes us human? Well, according to Pulitzer prize winning film critic and writer Jonathan Gold, one of the reasons is the fact that we cook and truly experience our food. A man always willing to try new things, City of Gold is a culmination of his life as a food critic, his love and passion for Los Angeles, and the idea that food is an experience of the palette as much as it is one of cultural learning and crossing barriers in a city brim with diversity.
The film is a guide to the food scene of Los Angeles, as well as a location and population guide. Food trucks, local mom and pop restaurants who have seen business grow because of Gold’s glowing reviews are at the center and heart of this documentary. A home to 20 million people, L.A. is overflowing with fresh experiences and unique flavors of locals and immigrant populations that, as Gold describes, is like tasting and being a part of different cultures without actually traveling anywhere. And Gold is praised in the film by many restaurant owners who have seen business double, and consider him not only a film critic, but as an important part of their community.
Gold’s passion for food and culture is evident through his writing and throughout the film, as he seeks to create a cultural connectivity through food. The film delves briefly into Gold’s past, how he got into being a food critic, and what separates food criticism from Yelp reviews. The film is a landscape of food places to hit up the next time you visit L.A. and it will more than likely make you extremely hungry as you watch dishes being made straight from the chef’s kitchen.
As a film, City of Gold hits most of the sweet spots like a savory and eclectic dish of carefully prepared food. It is sometimes imbalanced as it hops from the focus on food, to background story, to spotlighting different restaurant owners. However, the film is just as diverse as the city it centers on. Jonathan Gold is knowledgeable, the film visually pleasing and mouth-watering, as well as a food lover’s guide to great food, and a brief cultural history of a diverse city that you’ll want to visit immediately after viewing.