For us, reading about food is the only thing as good as eating it. So here we present the best things the Lucky Peach team read and ate this year. Here’s to more of this—and less of everything else from 2016—in the New Year.
Kristina Bornholtz, Social-Media Editor
READ: I liked Joshua David Stein’s profile of @FoodGod (aka Jonathan Cheban, Kim Kardashian’s BFF) for GQ. It’s a surprisingly sincere profile of a so-called influencer, in a time when food influencers can make even the most subpar restaurant soar to fame with a snap of a gimmicky dish. Stein keeps the eye rolls to a minimum (admirable, because I can’t say I do the same) and writes with a flourish fit for a Kardashian, all while exploring how a niche celebrity gets more views on his Snapchat food reviews than most qualified food magazines. It’s a wild Wild West out there. Time to get on your personal brand.
Favorite quote, for context: “I definitely want to be like a Guy Fieri or Anthony Bourdain for the young and hot. That would be amaaazing.”
ATE: The best thing I ate this year was the roasted yardbird at The Grey in Savannah. It is hands-down the best roasted chicken I’ve ever had—simple, succulent and served with a thick slice of sourdough. Best eaten with the Savannah Planter’s Punch at the opulent bar in the dining room.
Chris Cohen, Associate Editor
READ: I liked this deep dive into Houston’s/Hillstone, every foodie’s favorite chain.
ATE: The best thing I ate was the gumbo at Liuzza’s by the Track in New Orleans. It was my first time in the city, and I was under the misapprehension that its party reputation was mostly driven by Mardi Gras and tourists in the French Quarter. In reality, everyone in that city eats and drinks with reckless abandon all year. I was not able to hang, but a hungover brunch of gumbo and Bud Light at this semi-dive at least revived me for another day.
Rob Engvall, Art Director
READ: The best thing I read about food this year was probably my piece about why orange food is the best because orange is my favorite color. Being a young millennial influencer, its important for me to take every chance to get my name out there, even if it’s a list where you are supposed to plug someone else’s work you admire.
ATE: The best thing I ate this year was anything orange. See my piece for the reasons.
Ryan Healey, Web Editor
READ: Texas Monthly publishes some of my favorite longform journalism and this piece on Sandy Jenkins, a fruitcake-factory accountant who stole millions from his company, did not disappoint. Everything about it felt so Texas/foreign to me—who knew people ate so many fruitcakes? Who knew you could spend $2 million on furs alone?—but so familiar, too: Who hasn’t dreamed living life like it’s a ’90s rap video? There’s a little Sandy in all of us.
ATE: The Lucky Peach offices are on Lafayette Street, which means that every Thursday, I get to roll my eyes at the crowds camped outside Supreme waiting for the latest drop. But here’s the thing: I have a bit of fuccboi in me too—just for Superiority Burger instead of streetwear. Whenever Brooks premieres a new dish on Instagram, I must eat it immediately. For Spring/Summer 2016, I loved the grilled yuba with rhubarb and the young-ginger pancake; for Fall/Winter, I stuck to the white sweet potato and the green brown rice. (And real SB-heads know to always order gelato.)
Emily Johnson, Editorial Assistant
READ: Ian Parker’s profile of Pete Wells, the restaurant critic for the New York Times, was an interesting look at the man who so many restaurateurs spend so much time trying to understand.
ATE: I remember eating a malasada on the steps outside of a slightly suspect-looking urgent-care facility in Maui while I was waiting to get my ear examined, and it was just one of the most amazing things. In my memory, it melted in my mouth and was perfect—but maybe it was just really comforting when I needed that. My stepmom and I walked over to get them while I was waiting to be seen, and we brought some to the nurses and doctors.
Peter Meehan, Editorial Director
READ: If I’m picking out one piece of writing, it’s Amanda Kludt’s “Motherhood Trap” on Eater. It was a strong start to the year.
Toward the end of our democracy, Kim Severson ran two pieces in back-to-back weeks around the election, one on food at the African American History Museum in D.C. and another about food at the Standing Rock protests that just warmed the cockles of my pinko ex-Timesman heart and made me think, Fuck yes! That is what I want to see in the Wednesday paper.
I consider everything Jonathan Gold writes to be required reading, but that’s just me (and everyone in Los Angeles). And I’ll throw in a separate LA Times shout out to this smart taco eat-around with Enrique Olvera by Gillian Ferguson.
But there was a lot good stuff out there. Sachs’ Saveur had a few Adam Gollner stories this year, and I’m always a fan of those. There’s something about those pieces where Andrew Knowlton spends twenty-four hours in a Southern restaurant—like Waffle House or Franklin BBQ—that get to me, and not just because he’s so handsome in the videos that announce them in my Facebook feed.
Trying to come up with this list tells me I need to keep a list during the year, though, because there’s a few times a week I read things—academic papers, random blog posts, things in Bloomberg Businessweek (my heart-eyes-emoji magazine)—that I learn from and send or share, and I would like to do so here.
Normal-guy answer: Barbecue brisket tacos I made with my friend Jonathan and this one version of a blueberry-covered Pierre Hermé lemon tart tart that Hannah, my wife, made.
LA-fanboy answer: Summarized here, plus breakfasts at Sqirl.
New York–restaurant–guy answer: All my meals at Contra. I know Wildair is the hot shit, but Contra has my heart 100 percent.
Douchiest-but-truest answer: The steamed king crab with egg yolk sauce at Noma. Sorry. Redzepi’s the once and future king for a reason.
Kate Neuhaus, Marketing Manager
READ: Twinkies seem like an innocent enough snack. But this New York Times piece about how private-equity investors took over Hostess made me realize that the dealings behind one of Americas most beloved snack cakes aren’t too sweet.
ATE: Niku-uni from Takashi. It’s a creamy piece of sea urchin layered over raw steak, wrapped up in a shiso leaf and nori. You wrap it all up and eat it in one bite. And somehow all those disparate ingredients work perfectly together to make a bite that is rich and fresh and incredibly balanced.
Peter Romero, Account Executive
Aside from the great daily content I find on luckypeach.com, I will second Joshua David Stein’s profile of the foodgōd. (How could you not love the ō?) Also so many one-liners like: “Every novice is like, Can I have the rock shrimp? Then I’m always like, Don’t order rock shrimp with me. It’s such a bad look on the table. And “Woooah. Look at this. Really pigging out tonight. We all around. Pasta. Yo, we leave Europe and we’re still eating like fucking pigs.”
ATE: My favorite meals were my last thirty six hours in San Francisco before moving to New York: Swan Oyster Depot, Mission Chinese, and Bar Tartine. It made saying goodbye even harder than I thought it would be.
Joanna Sciarrino, Managing Editor
READ: I really loved this Thanksgiving feature that the New York Times put together. It was really sweet to see how so many different people of so many different backgrounds celebrate the holiday. Also, I have a short attention span, so I appreciated the vignettes.
ATE: I ate some pretty amazing things in Singapore and Bangkok this summer, but standouts were this hokkien popiah from Bee Heng Popiah in Singapore’s Newton Food Centre, and these crab noodles from Nara in Bangkok. If you’re wondering about the worst thing I ate this year, it was durian from a roadside grocery store in Singapore.
Brette Warshaw, COO
READ: It’s not about food, but this article about Netflix changed my view on what we do as a media company and how we do it.
ATE: The steak at Shima in Tokyo.