When it comes to putting Rick Bayless in his place, nobody does it with the grace of L.A. hero Jonathan Gold, who manages to object to the nonsense this respected chef occasionally lets fly from his mouth, without making it a full-on ad hominem attack. As you’ll recall, we were andado enchilado all pissed off last month when Bayless called L.A. diners “timid” and proceeded to brand our city a haven of Cal-Mex. We offered a few varied suggestions to locate regional Mexican cooking in L.A. before lumping Bayless in with the likes of Ivy Starck. Finally, J. Gold enters the Thunderdome on this whole “timid” issue, and it feels kind of like Kimbo Slice just showed up on our side of a three o’clock schoolyard brawl. Let’s get ‘em, Mr. Gold!
Gold offers, “After last year’s brouhaha, you’d think Señor Bayless would have given up on this,” referencing L.A.’s first major dust-up with the chef, who was welcomed with open arms before savaging our pride and joy. Yeah, we’d think after Street Gourmet L.A. put Bayless in the targets of his habanero-filled Super Soaker, the chef would quietly check in on Red O during promo events, then quietly fly back to the Chi. Or maybe he’d actually eat in L.A.’s Mexican restaurants for a change, something that we’re yet to hear The Ricker crow about (currently, he sounds occupied making nopalitos in Mexico).
Gold dashes the Cal-Mex question by reminding everyone that SoCal actually is a part of historic Mexico. Then he drops a long list of options to end all discussion. Get your Oaxaca at Guelaguetza, your Sinaloa at Chente, your Baja at Ricky’s, your Yucateco at Chichen Itza, and your Zacatecan birria at Flor del Rio (when you’re not eating your Jalisco-style birria at El Parian, he’d probably add, if there were more room). And so on and so forth…
Not only do we have an abundance of regionally specific Mexican cuisine, but Gold confirms, “Los Angeles is a center of regional Mexican cooking.” Somehow, we don’t think thirteen dollar sopes (about the only thing we’ve heard anyone say they’ve loved at Red O) forms part of that fulcrum.