In a world where the quick twitpic is king, maintaining the pretense of anonymity serves simply as decorum. Well, prolific LA Times critic Jonathan Gold is stepping out from behind the facade one week ahead of the Sundance debut of Laura Gabber's upcoming documentary, City of Gold, which follows the critic over the course of four years as he ate his way through the city.
On the front page of Saturday's Los Angeles Times, the only Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic explains:
I have been charmed into posing for a thousand food-festival selfies. A hundred waiters know my name. I have been called out in taquería lines from Pacoima to Bell Gardens. At chic restaurants, chefs nervously avoid my gaze. When he spotted me eating dinner, a Las Vegas maître d' once physically moved the table at which I was sitting from its cozy niche behind a pillar to a more glamorous spot in the middle of the room. I have become adept at pretending not to notice that a restaurant staff is pretending not to notice me noticing them noticing me. [LAT]
And while in an interview with Times Food staff writer Jenn Harris, Gold indirectly attributes the reason behind the unveiling to the release of the documentary, it wasn't just the Sundance premiere that sparked the unmasking. Gold reveals the real end to the anonymity was back in 2007, when an assistant at LA Weekly unwittingly posted his photo to the publication's website. The pretense continued for another eight years.
So although the "outing" of the restaurant critic is really just a formality, it certainly opens a greater discussion about the role of anonymity for the modern critic. Adam Platt of New York Magazine and Leslie Brenner of Dallas Morning News, albeit after a highly publicized feud with John Tesar, have also shed their anonymity, and Gold purports that,"their criticism hasn't suffered a bit."