When former Lucky Peach editor Peter Meehan joined the Los Angeles Times in October 2018, he did in order a contributing editor who could “guide editorial direction and enlargement of The Times’ meals and dining coverage” inside the wake of the unexpected loss of life of longtime food critic Jonathan Gold. But in February, the L.A. Paper dropped the “contributing” part, determining to make Meehan the reputable editor of the phase. “By that factor, I had started bossing people around so much,” Meehan says. “I became invested enough inside the technique and the vision that it has become something I desired to do.” Yesterday, the fruit of Meehan and his group’s labors came to life in the shape of the first stand-on my own meals segment to seem within the L.A. Times seeing that 2012. Grub caught up with Meehan as he boarded a flight again to New York, in which his circle of relatives nonetheless lives, to speak approximately his plans for the revitalized meals phase.
How did Jonathan Gold’s passing play a role for your coming to the L.A. Times?
Well, he was speakme to me about coming to L.A. And editing the segment for a while. But I in no way took all of it that severely. And then he was given unwell virtually speedy this beyond summer season and I suppose Jonathan become a large part of why [the paper’s new owner,] Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong offered the paper. I assume he turned into one of the marquee people at the L.A. Times. And so suddenly that they had those new owners who had been equipped to put loads of cash and support into meals and they had misplaced the fellow who ought to show them the manner.
What was the run-up like before the day before today’s launch?
They had also employed a group of recent humans since I joined. Before, food was best two and a half of pages on Saturdays. I changed into like, we want greater real estate. We want a stand-by myself meals phase. There is a choice to reinvent and reinvigorate the L.A. Times and there has been no pushback. They have been similar to, ‘Okay. How quickly do you need to do it?’ And that’s an incredible component in any media surroundings, mainly this one. I’m very proud of the first section and what we made and what’s in it, but I see it because the first step in the direction of something new that we can be making and I assume there’s simply loads of techniques and interdepartmental collaboration that [haven’t] always been a part of the procedure at the L.A. Times, mainly at some point of that Tronc awful-possession duration. I suppose if we made a product that human beings need to peer, they want to have a look at, they want to personal, they need to hold, they need to subscribe to, it’s going to require a few formal inventions along producing the fine journalism we can.
You’re presently splitting a while among L.A. And New York. How are you making that painting?
It’s great to be in the same room, but it’s also not vital. And I assume I’d see my own family less if all of us lived here because the travel is lengthy. The manner it works with New York is I can take my younger kids to school and nonetheless be online before everybody. My dinnertime is their lunch-destroy time. It’s operating out surprisingly properly thus far.
The folding of Lucky Peach stuck many human beings off the shield. What came about?
I think that Dave [Chang] and I simply grew apart. We labored collectively for the long term and we made quite a few stuff together that had been fairly cool. And then at a certain factor, I think he desired one issue and I wanted some other. I don’t experience cozy talking to what he desired, however, what I wanted became what Lucky Peach became. I turned into happy with the course and the boom and identification of Lucky Peach and he wasn’t. And he owned extra of the employer than I did. We couldn’t find a manner for me to shop for the enterprise. He didn’t want to promote the agency to me. So, it closed. The personnel stayed on for a pair problems despite the fact that all of us knew they have been going to lose their jobs, so it changed into an extended funerary death march of 5 months of making the ultimate two troubles. And the show that we had sold as The Lucky Peach Show became Ugly Delicious. I cherished the team and I cherished what we had constructed and I thought there were first-rate things headed for the destiny, but (a) loss of life younger and leaving a handsome corpse is constantly a laugh, and (b) if that hadn’t come about, I wouldn’t have [had] the hazard to do that. I fought as tough as I should to maintain the magazine and the brand alive and that became, lamentably, no longer feasible.
Do you believe you studied you would have come over to the L.A. Times if it changed into still owned with the aid of Tronc (now Tribune Publishing)?
No, I don’t assume I might have. If Jonathan became nonetheless here, maybe.
With the brand new critics at the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle, and now your new group, California’s meals scene has by no means been given extra coverage. Why do you observe it’s occurring at this moment in time?
The concept that California is higher now than it became 5 years in the past, I think is fake. But I assume that the recognition would possibly in the long run need to do with the popularity of Jonathan. Because Jonathan becomes writing higher eating place opinions than everyone for the long term. He wasn’t God on high until the last few years, but I assume that could have helped. In any case, L.A. Has been a tremendous eating metropolis for an actual long term. Maybe human beings are just now noticing on a countrywide stage.
That touches on a parody piece by Lucas Kwan Peterson that the L.A. Times ran on April Fools’ Day entitled, “For cramped New York, an expanding dining scene.” How did that piece come together?
Lucas delivered it up in like November. Like, roasting a piece of writing about L.A. Discovering bread whilst Nancy Silverton literally invented bread herself. She took a rib out and it becomes a baguette. And so we mentioned it every few weeks and I think he becomes simply sprucing the knife for a truly long time due to the fact we knew it had to be ideal or it’d fall flat. He’s were given a superb feel for matters and proposed that we run it on April 1. I feel love it turned into a very good piece of commentary in addition to a piece of satire. Overall, the idea of competition in media could be very tired to me. But I also posted trouble of Lucky Peach the use of Bon Appétit’s font. I mean, obviously, it’s a laugh to fuck round with stuff like that. I like humorous pork, but no true red meat.
It felt a little bit like, “Shots fired.” The L.A. Times has outlined how you propose to push into video. You’ve built a new test kitchen. And there were quite a few hires, specifically of those who’ve formerly written approximately and worked in New York City food. Is your hope to build something which can rival the New York Times’ meals segment?
No. I suggest, I’m friends with a group of human beings on the New York Times meals section and I suppose their cooking app is mild-years beforehand of any virtual product I have up my sleeve. I think that the fulfillment of their food section is exceptional.