#CarnivorrGoesForGold Final Recap
I did it.
I ate at LA’s Best 101 restaurants in 101 days.
I drove on average 60 miles a day (from Long Beach to LA).
I drove over 6,000 miles total.
I spent $1,000 on gas.
I spent over $5,000 on food.
(Some of the restaurants and chefs were kind enough to support my project and send out some complimentary dishes. Sometimes I was lucky enough to have the dinner paid for by family, a friend, or a date, but for the most part, I spent my savings. It was an investment!)
I gained weight.
I expanded my palate.
(Before this challenge, I’d never had a lot of the cuisines or specific dishes, like Korean food, Ethiopian food, Sichuan peppers, etc.)
I gained a tremendous amount of knowledge and respect for LA, our chefs, and our incredible culinary scene.
So, what did I learn about LA?
I learned how much respect chefs have for Jonathan Gold. I believe he is the most respected food writer of all time, and with good reason. Jonathan’s reviews bring food to life – even non-foodies read his reviews and want to try a restaurant.
And vice versa, I learned how much respect J Gold has for the chefs, and for food in general. Instead of being harsh or negative in his critiques, Jonathan would consistently point out the things he liked about a restaurant, encouraging the chefs rather than belittling them to help them hone their craft.
In return, the chefs and owners were so humbled, so grateful to be included on the list every year. They never expected the recognition or took it for granted, in fact, many cried telling me about the first time they made the list, insisting that Jonathan Gold changed their life.
In my opinion, LA is the most diverse food city in the world – you can find everything here. We have the largest Koreatown outside of Korea. San Gabriel Valley is home to every type of Chinese food you could dream of. And don’t get me started on our Mexican food… We have taco trucks, but we also have fine dining. We have access to the best produce in America. We have it all. (We’re so damn lucky!)
So, what was my favorite on the list?
How could I possibly choose?! Of course, there were a few spots I didn’t love, but for the most part I felt that every restaurant deserved to be on the list. It’s so hard to pick a favorite from the 101 list, but there were some dishes and some meals that stood out to me more than others:
Irenia (made me fall in love with Filipino food)
Guelaguetza (Oaxacan! mole!!!)
Night + Market Song (Thai)
pizza @ Pizzana
sushi @ Q sushi
steak @ CUT
seafood @ Holbox/Chichen Itza
pork chop & pancakes @ Salt’s Cure
pastrami @ Langer’s (better than Katz’s!)
chicken dorowat @ Meals By Genet
flaky bread @ Kismet
butter chicken @ Mayura
galbi jjim @ Sun Nong Dan (one of the best things I ate this year)
This was my favorite project thus far in my career - it inspired me and challenged me and pushed me to my limits. There were points when I wanted to give up, times when I just wanted to sit on my couch and stay at home instead of going out for another meal. But then I’d read another review and Gold’s words would spark a fire in my heart, and in my belly, and I’d set out for another meal.
Obviously, I had no idea that this would be the last of Jonathan Gold’s list. I am so grateful to have been able to complete this goal when I did and to learn what I could from Jonathan Gold’s inspiring reviews. I’m so thankful to have been able to meet him once, to watch him amidst an adoring crowd. The “City Of Gold” will never be the same without him (no one loved Los Angeles the way he did) but hopefully we Angelenos can continue to seek out the hole-in-the-wall restaurants, the unusual foods, and the taco trucks and carry on his legacy. We miss you, Jonathan.