The Decline and Fall of the LAT's Food Section

Russ Parsons just left. On December 11, Sherry says adios.

just came to post this.

I hope nothing but the best for both of them, in whatever future endeavors may lie in their path.

I stopped reading the LAT on any sort of consistent, regular basis for nearly 20 years (stopped subscribing back around Y2K), but still exchanged many emails with Irene, about food, restaurants, and everything else in between.

Good luck to both.

Drat. Drat. Drat.

I am going to really miss Russ. He was (and is!) such a passionate practical cook, he made me feel like a partner in crime, that we were all on this adventure together.

He also made me laugh when he took down Michael Ruhlman when he (Ruhlman) said that roasting a chicken only takes and hour and why wouldn’t anyone do that? Russ pointed out that it only took Ruhlman an hour because he works at home and was able to do things while he cooked. Russ did a real world timeline of commuting to a job, picking up the chicken, prepping and preheating the oven and made his case - it’s simple, it’s tasty but it most certainly does not take just an hour, so don’t get down on folks for saying they are too busy to do it.

He was a champion of the home cook, combination scientist/researcher,/foodie/budget shopper/honest writer.

Did I mention I’ll miss him? Sigh.


title is completely misleading.

With the 2 “senior” editors gone, LAT Food section will get to survive, and probably improve because their salary packages were insanity.

There is now (possibly) room for more photography assignments, and quality freelancing writers that can focus on long form and food topics that actually matter. And, gulp, maybe some fresh blood pumped into staffing?

This has been the news that food writing readers waited for since … Red Med gate.

With other changes coming to the food writing scene (new book deals, etc), LA as a city is just going to put out better stories come '16.


But what about that tree that falls in the proverbial forest?

And there’s no one there to hear it?

Assuming the LAT, ahem, the forest is still around.

Tony, I hope you are right and I hope you get the job.
But consider the writers the Times has developed and lost over the years: Jim Murray, Jack Smith, Charles Champlin, T.J. Simers, Robert Hilburn, Ann Powers, Leonard Feather, Al Martinez, Ruth Reichl, Susan Spano, Jerry Hulse, Russ, Sherry, et al. Who’s left of this caliber? Kenneth Turan, J. Gold and Steve Lopez. And maybe they’ll take the buyouts?
You are correct. I mistitled the thread. I should have written: The Decline and Fall of the LAT.


i still enjoy reading a newspaper. and here’s hoping whatever new writers are hired
aren’t anywhere near the subzero “caliber” of folks like murray, simers and powers. hack ptooie.
now dan neil, THAT was a loss.

Different strokes, I guess. Ms. Powers may be an acquired taste, but I like her perspective on music. Mr. Simers was 2009 California Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the NSSA. Mr. Murray was 14 times NSSA Sportswriter of the Year and won a Pulitzer in 1990. As I was saying, who’s left of this caliber?
As for new writers, I suspect you’ll see more general all purpose articles written by Chicago Tribune staff. With food, they will have to have some local stuff and for that they have Gold and his minions.
And, yes, Dan Neil, another Pulitzer winner, is a great automotive writer.
Beyond Mr. Gold, who won a Pulitzer, and Mr. Lopez, who was a Pulitzer finalist, who have they got left?

Did you know TJ just won a $7 million lawsuit against the Times for age and disability discrimination?

Off topic I know, but if you do a Google search you can read about it.

i already have a job: fire breathing young Asian Andy Warhol type.

You’re right about the fall of LAT, though. Gdamn Chicagoans.


And that’s no fuckin’ joke.

You’re kevin on a different username?..

How did I not know this?

Why the two usernames? One for more serious perspectives, and one for jokes?

I was just channeling Kevin. I am not worthy to BE Kevin.

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Post was directed at TonyC…who just used my description of kevin to refer to himself, so seems they are the same poster. Pretty interesting.

Hmmm. [scratches chin]

20 years ago i bought the wednesday (or thursday) times for the food section, and the sunday times mainly for the food coupons and because newsprint is much more effective at cleaning windows and mirrors (no streaking). i stopped using coupons and started perusing the website but my interests and the focus of the LAT food section seem to have diverged and i went more with gold’s counter intelligence in the weekly when he returned in 2001. however i did not follow gold’s 'return to the LAT; i tend to rely more on blogs and other internet based sources.

Ironically, I stopped reading the Times regularly when i noticed huge piles of paper piling up each week. (Now the paper has shrunk.) So I just looked at Sunday for Calendar. Then, when that started losing its heft, I switched to the Weekly. But now the Weekly isn’t what it used to be. So, yeah, the online thing seems the order of the day.

The LA Times food section is already dead - replaced with a few anemic articles in the “Saturday” section. I was one of the finalists for the holiday cookie bakeoff just a few years ago (maybe five?) and I got to tour the test kitchen and meet the staff - Noelle Carter, Rene Lynch, Russ Parsons. It was one of the only papers left that actually had a test kitchen and developed and tested recipes. Now Russ is gone, Rene is on the City Bureau. IDK if Noelle is there. No idea what has happened or will happen to the test kitchen.

V. sad.

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TK is dead, but… so is ATK so… whatevers, cuz there are still these three words:

Amy. fucking.

also, i don’t know who mentioned “pulitzer winning” automotive journalist above but… jalopnik killed that entire field 10 years ago. he might as well all have retired in 2010. the LAT auto section is dead as shit also, save for the fri-sun “ad cars”. yes, them millenials took all your writing jobs.

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