Jonathan Gold and Rick Bayless Tweet Off Over Mexican Food in L.A.

Travel Blog  •  Jim Benning  •  08.31.10 | 11:49 AM ET

What was it? A battle? A shot over the bow? Maybe, looking back, it was just a misfire. But it got L.A. Mexican foodies pretty excited for a few days.

At a talk in Orange County last week, Pulitzer Prize-winning restaurant critic Jonathan Gold—a hero of ours who has made a career of championing great hole-in-the-wall ethnic restaurants in SoCal—took a shot at PBS TV host and restaurateur Rick Bayless. The chef, whose Frontera Grill in Chicago gets rave reviews, just designed the menu for a new upscale Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles, Red O—his first project in the region.

Now, L.A. loves its homegrown Mexican food. It’s a source of pride. So the arrival of Bayless earlier this year was bound to raise eyebrows.

The Los Angeles Times gave Red O a favorable review. Then Gold took the mic at a gathering of journalists last week.

Reported the OC Weekly:

Gold said Bayless was a “good” chef who knew his way around Mexican recipes, but he sneered at Bayless’ nerve in coming to Los Angeles and opening a restaurant—Red O—that presumed to introduce Angelinos to “authentic” Mexican cuisine. In particular, Gold zeroed in on Bayless’ inclusion of chilpachole—a glorious seafood soup from Veracruz—as some rarity, when Gold said the soup was easily available in the Southland, along with dozens of other Mexican regional specialties.

Word reached Bayless, and he tweeted:

@thejgold Thought a Pulitzer meant you checked facts. Sneering at me for something I never said is either mean or sloppy. I’m offended

He also posted this comment on the OC Weekly’s article:

I know it’s all the rage for journalists to go into unsupported hyperbole, but I never said I was going to introduce Southern California to “authentic” Mexican cuisine. I said I was going to bring the flavors of Frontera Grill to Los Angeles.


As of today, however, both sides are tweeting that the spat is behind them.

Gold’s tweet:

@Rick_Bayless and I have kissed and made up, I think. Further thoughts will have to wait for the full review.

Bayless’ reply:

Yes, i think we have :) RT @thejgold @Rick_Bayless & I have kissed & made up, I think. Further thoughts will have to wait 4 the full review.

Taco détente.

Whew. Now we can all go back to eating our enchiladas in peace.

2 Comments for Jonathan Gold and Rick Bayless Tweet Off Over Mexican Food in L.A.

Hotel Redondo Beach 08.31.10 | 1:39 PM ET

Great debate… There is some great Mexican food down here.  Plenty to go around!

Ron Mader 09.04.10 | 10:04 PM ET

Isn’t it better to support homegrown, local restaurants? Full stop.

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