Jonathan Gold Drops Mask of Anonymity

LA Times restaurant critic appears on the front page of today’s issue

Los Angeles Times restaurant critic Jonathan Gold appears unmasked on the cover of today's paper.

Pulitzer prize winning food writer Jonathan Gold is the latest high-profile restaurant critic to abandon the mask of anonymity, though he says his identity was never really secret to begin with.

Gold’s long-haired, mustachioed face was revealed this morning in a cover story in the L.A. Times, in which Gold says any claim at actual anonymity was over in 2007 when his picture was accidentally published on the website of a paper he used to work for. However, he’s maintained the secret identity performance because in the U.S. the ideal persists of an anonymous restaurant critic operating in secret to catch out restaurants that might otherwise deliver a lesser experience to a non-VIP customer.

“We are silent vigilantes avenging curdled hollandaise,” Gold said.

However fun the critic’s cloak and dagger routine might be for a person to read about, though, Gold said restaurants know the critics’ faces anyway.

A hundred waiters know my name,” he wrote. “I have been called out in taquería lines from Pacoima to Bell Gardens. At chic restaurants, chefs nervously avoid my gaze. ... I have become adept at pretending not to notice that a restaurant staff is pretending not to notice me noticing them noticing me.”

New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells weighed in on Twitter:











Just over a year ago New York magazine food critic Adam Platt dispensed with his own anonymity by appearing unmasked on the magazine’s cover. Gold holds him up as an example, saying the quality of Platt’s reviews has not diminished at all since his unmasking.