tinygiant director Louise Palmberg on how the late LA Times food critic influenced her in both life and work
Seeing the documentary ‘City of Gold’ changed Louise Palmberg’s views on “food, culture, accessibility and passion”. The film follows the life of Jonathan Gold, the highly respected and hugely loved food critic who dedicated his working life to unearthing the hidden restaurant gems of Los Angeles’ boundlessly diverse culture. He sadly passed away earlier last year.
Louise> My creative hero is hands down Jonathan Gold, the LA Times food critic who sadly passed away last year, in 2018.
Q> How long has this person been important to you and what are your first memories of meeting them or coming across their work?
Louise> I remember seeing ‘City of Gold’, the documentary by Laura Gabbert about his life, at a dark theatre at IFC in New York in 2016. When leaving the theatre, I realised that this documentary had completely changed my views on food, culture, accessibility, and passion.
Q> If it’s someone you personally know, how did you get to know them and how has your relationship evolved over the years? If you don’t know this person, how did you go about finding to learn more about them and their work?
Louise> Whenever I find myself in Los Angeles for work, which happens all the time, I work my way down the list of Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants, constantly looking for that sign hanging in the window. It’s been a great journey so far, taking me far and wide all across the city – and has really helped me discover cultures and neighbourhoods I would never have found on my own.
Q> Why is the person such an inspiration to you?
Louise> Jonathan Gold has really added another layer of inspiration and passion for me when it comes to food. I got into food because my dad was a chef, and I started cooking at a young age. I then proceeded to work as a photographer and director, but couldn’t stay away from the restaurant industry, so I started photographing chefs. While passionate about the industry at that point, I remember how much deeper that passion grew when I discovered Jonathan Gold – a writer who lives in a city different than mine, writing about restaurants that I can’t go to on an every day basis. There was this really special moment for me earlier this year, when I was finally able to visit Jitlada, a restaurant that Jonathan Gold really loved. It saddened me, to not be able to visit the restaurant prior to chef Suthiporn ‘Tui’ Sungkamee’s passing in 2017. However, being able to have my own frame of reference for the details and dishes he mentioned was amazing. Furthermore, his writing has inspired me to completely devote my life to what I love most – food. Because if there’s anything that comes through in Jonathan’s writing, it's his passion and devotion to the subject.
Q> How does this person influence you in your approach to your creative work?
Louise> Through Jonathan Gold’s writing, I have widened my personal horizons, not just regarding what menu item to order, but also opening my eyes to experiences of other people and cultures, other than my own. I thank him for that, because staying curious, and especially regarding a topic that is my day-to-day life, is the key to continuously making great work, I think.
Q> What piece or pieces of this person’s work do you keep coming back to and why?
Louise> His book ‘Counter Intelligence: Where to Eat in the Real Los Angeles’ is a beautiful collection of reviews, that really puts into perspective how extensive his work was. The detail and beautifully expressed tonality that goes into each individual review is inspiring in itself and makes me realize just how important food is to us, not only by providing nutrients but by bringing us together.