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Food Critic Jonathan Gold on His Best Meal of the Year

Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold chatted with us about his favorite meals, what he thinks of hot spot Vespertine, and what the LA food scene is missing, before his LA Times Foodbowl chat with chef Daniel Humm tonight at Barnsdall Park’s wine tasting fundraiser.

What is missing from the food scene in LA right now? 
JONATHAN GOLD: The thing that had been missing for a while was the restaurants of the old cuisine, but I think we’re making up for it now with all the spectacular places coming in. So I’ll say, as I always say, I wish we had more Eastern European and African food.

Are there new spots, maybe Daniel Humm’s new restaurant, that have impressed you?
JG: There are great new places. One that I’m really grooving on at the moment is Freedman’s. It’s sort of a restaurant, but inspired by delicatessen food, in Echo Park, and it’s pretty spectacular.

I haven’t been to Nomad LA because I knew I’d be talking with Daniel Humm and I talked to Will Guidara a couple weeks ago for his podcast and I have to be able to keep an open mind for the review that I’m eventually going to write.

What’s the best meal you’ve had in the past year?
JG: The best meal I’ve had in the past year was probably a long, spectacular tasting dinner at Massimo Bottura’s restaurant, Osteria Francescana, in Modena, Italy. He’s a chef whose cooking I’ve loved for years, and he’s just changed his menu. There’s some sculptural things that he’s doing with Italian cuisine, and he’s just taking Italian flavors to a whole new level.

At the end of last year, you named Vespertine, a restaurant that drew ire and awe, as the best restaurant on your “101 Best Restaurants” list. Do you see it as the future of the restaurant/food world?
JG: By its very nature, Vespertine is suigeneric. You just can’t do another one. The idea is that more people in Los Angeles will do highly individualistic restaurants that represent all kinds of aesthetics including architecture, art and music, as well as food ones. So I think nothing can be remotely like Vespertine. No, it is on its own.

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