Larry Dietz grew up with a culinary handicap: a father who liked all his protein burnt and a mother defeated by this rule. His early life was a gastronomic slog through charred chicken at home and mediocre Philadelphia restaurants willing to torch his father’s order.
He knew he wanted to be a writer, and after some educational and cross-country detours, wound up in New York City, editing an acclaimed (if short-lived) magazine, and writing and editing for New York Magazine. But Larry had tasted the life of Southern California, and moved back.
Driving across the country, Larry had an aha! moment. He had an assignment from West, the L.A. Times Sunday magazine, to do a travel piece on New Orleans. That meant eating (and drinking) himself silly. One notable meal included his first great wine after a young adulthood of plonk. It was a Puligny-Montrachet; as he drank it, he had an “Oh, I get it!” moment.
He sampled L.A.’s best burgers on assignment for West, and as an editor at New West Magazine, oversaw the restaurant coverage, which included at least one meal with the restaurant critic at each place she reviewed.