The Los Angeles Times is losing co-critic Patricia Escárcega. Escárcega has been on leave from the paper for months but now appears to be moving on entirely.
Earlier this week, Escárcega removed the co-critic title from her Twitter bio, and at least one off-the-record source from within the paper says that she has indeed departed the publication. That leaves Bill Addison (who was formerly Eater’s restaurant editor) as the paper’s sole critic, and caps a tumultuous year for the food section at the Times. Following the departure of Peter Meehan in July 2020 — who resigned under a cloud of toxic workplace allegations — the section was reshuffled and still does not have a permanent section lead.
Eater reached out to Escárcega, interim food editor Alice Short, and the communications department for the paper directly several times this week, but no one has responded to a request for comment. The LA Times Guild, the paper’s union, declined to comment before this story was originally posted. They have since sent a statement, seen below.
Escárcega did briefly announce her departure on Twitter but removed her tweet soon after. She later resurfaced the original Twitter thread to her profile.
It’s unclear what may be next for Escárcega, who moved back to the Los Angeles area after years covering food in Phoenix. She has written for other publications of late, including a Playboy piece calling for more diversity in food media. Escárcega had been engaged in a lengthy battle for pay equity and greater diversity at the Times, though her pay request was ultimately denied by the company back in November 2020.
Both Escárcega and Addison were hired to help bolster the critic role at the Times following the death of Jonathan Gold, with each sharing duties covering restaurants of all stripes, price points, and sizes. Escárcega, a Southern California native, spent much of her time exploring regions further afield in areas like Orange and Riverside counties while also covering local issues about worker rights, food cost, and the future of groups like food truck owners.
“I hope I have not let you down,” Escárcega said in her since-deleted Twitter thread, adding: “It was a chance to write about communities that have been historically overlooked, misunderstood, or outright shunned by previous generations of journalists.”
Escárcega’s formal departure now leaves only Addison in the role, and it’s unclear at this time if the paper will move to hire a second critic. More information on this as it becomes available.
Update: April 1, 2021, 1:48 p.m.: This story has been updated to include Escárcega’s resurfaced Twitter thread.
Update: April 1, 2021, 2:42 p.m.: The LA Times Guild union has sent the following statement:
We are diminished by Patricia’s departure. Our Guild will continue to fight for pay equity for all, and we will continue to fight against the shocking shortfall of Latino representation in a newsroom that still doesn’t look like the city it represents.