When I first met Jonathan Gold years back I was a fledgling food writer who had been invited to Los Angeles to participate in a very cool event.
Jon Rowley had read one of my early articles in the Weekly about oysters and contacted me to tell me how much he liked it. After several email exchanges he invited me to his annual, Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition. Rowley, a highly respected writer and food expert, created the event to help find the best wines that paired with wines. The oysters were provided by Taylor Shellfish Farms. The wines were mainly whites from wineries along the West Coast.
Without going into much detail, the event involved thirty or so culinary experts, about a dozen wineries and an unbelievable number of oyster slurping in three cities – Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.
Rowley flew me into LA. Needless to say I was in deep water but he trusted me so I soon felt comfortable.
Jonathan Gold was one of the other judges as was Russ Parsons and Mary Sue Milliken.
The tasting went well but it wasn’t until afterword that I got to meet Gold (meet is a relative term here, it was more like sitting down with all the judges and listening to Gold and others chat about food and wine.)
Gold stood out, as he always seemed to, with his flowing hair, large frame and rumpled clothes. I can’t remember a word he said but I still see him sitting at the head of the table the center of everyone’s attention.
The lunch didn’t last long and everyone went their separate ways but that day is etched indelibly in my mind as an opportunity to dine with the stars. I had fun and I learned much about my craft.
Years later when I watched the movie, ‘City of Gold’, I thought about that day. I wished I’d been less intimidated, a little chattier. By then I was more firmly established in my career, so I had a greater appreciation for food, food writing and food writers.
The contest is no longer held as Rowley died a couple years back, but I will always treasure that day as one of my ‘Gold’en days of my career.
I raise a glass of wine and a couple of oysters to you, Jonathan Gold, for all you did for food writing. You helped expand the creative process. You taught us that humble foods have great worth. You changed food writing forever.
Hail and farewell Jonathan Gold!