The Los Angeles Times has officially begun staffing up its food section, as Eater’s own national critic Bill Addison has been tapped as one of the paper’s next critics of record since the death of Jonathan Gold earlier this year.
Addison spent much of the past four years traveling the entire country anonymously in search of the best new and classic restaurants alike, eating hundreds of meals annually in cities large and small. He also helped to spearhead Eater’s own regional guides — including one for the state of California — and put particular focus on highlighting places, people, and regions not often covered by more mainstream coastal media outlets.
Now Addison is coming to Los Angeles full time, in hopes of elevating the Los Angeles Times food section with his prodigious writing and previous literary and James Beard Foundation awards.
Here’s what Addison had to say about moving to Los Angeles to cover the restaurant scene:
I can think of no other city I’d rather call home than Los Angeles, because Los Angeles is the capital of American food in the 21st century...it’s where so much is happening that steers the conversation around food today. Its incredible multiculturalism reflects who we are and how we relate to one another through dining.
Addison is the first big hire since contributing editor Peter Meehan came onboard to help run the food section alongside acting food editor Jenn Harris. Meehan previously oversaw editorial for food literary magazine Lucky Peach, and was brought on in part to help shepherd an influx of new talent now that the Los Angeles Times has committed to financing a robust food section under owner Patrick Soon-Shiong. Beyond picking talent, Meehan will also edit and direct the vertical, and will even be helping out with the Times food events side like the month-long annual Food Bowl and 101 best restaurants event.
Patricia Escárcega will also step in to cover the food criticism beat, and will likely help to cover restaurants beyond the big, high-end, name-checked food scene alongside Addison. Escárcega is a native to Southern California but has lived in Arizona for many years, working on food and cultural criticism at places like the Phoenix New Times and, more recently, for The Arizona Republic. As her website bio says, she takes a particular interest in “food, politics, books, and latinx issues.”
Escárcega and Addison’s dual roles take on increasing importance in a city like Los Angeles, where so many of the best meals are found in strip malls, parking lots, and out-of-the-way storefronts in the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys, or in communities like Long Beach or South LA. As the Times says: “neither one [will be] limited to a geographic area or type of cuisine. Both will review anonymously.”
And finally, the Los Angeles Times has also brought on Lucas Peterson, writer of the Frugal Traveler column for the New York Times and longtime Eater contributor, to help expand the food and travel sections as well. Peterson is well-known for his Eater YouTube series Dining on a Dime, and has been writing about the Los Angeles food scene for Eater, GQ, Lucky Peach, and elsewhere for years.
Peterson will host a new food video series for the LA Times and had this to say about coming to the LA Times, “I am truly looking forward to helping improve the already outstanding coverage of L.A.’s incredible food scene and bring some new dimensions to our coverage, including different video and multimedia projects.”
All three will begin in December, with new reviews from Addison and Escárcega coming out in 2019.