When early online reports began to rumble that LA Weekly food critic Jonathan Gold might win the paper’s first Pulitzer Prize, editor Laurie Ochoa (who also happens to be his wife) called him into her office.
“We got some champagne thinking, even if he’s just a finalist, that’s cool, because we’ve never had a finalist at the LA Weekly,” she said.
So when word came across the AP wire that Gold had actually won the 2007 prize in criticism, “it was pandemonium.”
Gold became the first food writer and the sixth staffer from an alternative weekly paper to win the prize. The LA Weekly is owned by Village Voice Media, which also owns the Village Voice.
Previous alt weekly winners include the Village Voice’s Teresa Carpenter, who won for feature writing in 1981; the Village Voice’s Jules Feiffer, who won for cartooning in 1986; the Boston Pheonix’s Lloyd Schwartz, who won for criticism in 1994; the Village Voice’s Mark Schoofs, who wonf or international reporting in 2000, and Willamette Week’s Nigel Jaquiss, who won for investigative reporting in 2005, according to the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies.
Gold started as a proofreader for the Weekly in 1981, and his first writing assignments were on classical music. A piece on music caught the eye of founder and owner Jay Levin, who put him in charge of the paper’s restaurant issue. Gold found that food was what he really enjoyed writing about, and was soon eating his way down LA’s Pico Boulevard to educate himself in the art. His column, “Counter Intelligence,” began appearing in the paper in 1986. He later spent six years as a columnist for the Los Angeles Times and was the restaurant critic for Gourmet Magazine.
How is this celebrated palette celebrating? “With a pimp cup full of warm Mums,” he said.