No longer a mystery diner

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Food critic Jonathan Gold waits for dinner

It’s usually a good idea for restaurant critics to be anonymous so they can do their job properly. So they book under an assumed name, slide in quietly and keep the notebook hidden. Well, most of us do, although I was at Fischers of Baslow Hall when Michael Winner of the Sunday Times phoned to say he’d be making a state visit. Or, rather, his secretary did.

That was the case with me until my newspaper decided I was a ‘brand’ and stuck my photo at the top of the page. Even then, it was surprising how many times I could still be incognito before the ‘reveal’ at the end of the meal.

There looks to be an interesting film, City of Gold*, at Sheffield Doc Fest about how the Pulitzer Prize winning Los Angeles food critic Jonathan Gold operates for the L A Times. Using a battery of disposable phones he calls to make bookings in city restaurants. But you do have to wonder just how secretive you can be as a very fat man in braces with long, untidy hair, arriving in a green pick up truck and dining alone.

Particularly as for the last four years a camera crew has been following him around as he reveals the “culinary geography” of the city. Gold is rightly celebrated for bringing the food in Los Angeles’ myriad ethnic restaurants to public attention and good for him. It looks to be worth a watch.

This blog very quietly records the food (and drink) of a much less glamorous area than LA. Somehow I don’t think I’ll be getting a call from a documentary film maker!

*Showing in Screen 2, The Showroom, on Friday, June 10 at 1pm

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