The Best and Worst Food Culture Moments of 2022

The Best and Worst Food Culture Moments of 2022

It is the tradition at Eater to end the year with a survey of friends, contributors, rovers of the industry, and professional eaters. Even a year like this one. For 2022, the group were asked 12 questions, covering the best meals and the worst moments alongside 2023 predictions and dining standbys. Their answers will appear throughout this week, with responses relayed in no particular order; cut and pasted below.

So far, Year in Eater has covered the best newcomers, restaurant standbys, best meals, saddest closures, and biggest surprises of the year. Now, it’s time for the best — and worst — food moments of 2022.

Adam Coghlan, Editor, Eater London:

Worst: Worldwide Taqueria attempting to a sue Mexican-owned taqueria Sonora for using the word taqueria in its name — dearie me.

Best: Sonora Taqueria having absolutely none of it.

James Hansen, Assistant Editor, Eater London:

Best: The lettuce.

Worst: The various lawsuits, for two reasons. First, their individually egregious circumstances. Second, the way they display the growing corporatisation of power in London restaurants, which manifests daily outside of these moments in the way landlords dictate who can open a restaurant, and where.

Anna Sulan Masing, food writer and Eater London contributor:

Best: lmao. I cannot stop thinking about Cafe Deco/ Anna Tobias’s April Fools menu. The rest of this year has proved how on point that parody menu was. The only thing missing was a bone marrow whisky luge…

Worst: Dickheads and their trademark nonsense. I still can’t believe the (fragility) of Adam Handling and the Frog restaurant debacle (equally ecstatic to see Toad bakery doing so well!). I am incredulous at Taqueria (the restaurant brand) thinking they own that word… I just, no words.

Jonathan Nunn, food writer and Eater London contributor:

Best: I’ve always wanted to have a dish named after me — like Waldorf, or Cobb or whoever Suzette was. So I would have to say my biggest food related achievement this year is asking if E. Pellici if their hash browns could be topped with bolognese and cheese, and them obliging. If you ask for “Hash Browns Nunn” you won’t get anything apart from a confused look, but hopefully if you say it enough, it just might stick.

Worst: It was unfortunately the time I went to Nusr-Et sober, and it was neither good, nor bad, nor funny enough to get even a single good piece of content out of.

Joel Hart, food writer and Eater London contributor:

Best: For me, the first bite of salt fish rice at Singburi. For the industry, Chishuru winning Time Out Restaurant of the Year.

Worst: James Corden being an asshole to waiting staff or, if we can call it a moment, the U.K. government’s signing of a trade deal with Australia that threatens food health and environmental standards, and will damage our agricultural and semi-processed food sectors.

George Reynolds, writer and Eater London contributor:

Best: The Menu is not perfect. Even for satire, the characterisation is basically one-dimensional, and I wish they’d allowed themselves to go further with some of the gnarlier stuff that they brought to the surface. I’d have loved to have seen what Lars Von Trier, say, did with the idea of celebrity chefs mining personal trauma as part of the creative process, or using their own menus to publicly take accountability for abusive behaviour or sexual misconduct. Put it this way: it certainly wouldn’t have been as bloodless as The Menu ended up.

But, man, for someone who aged 26 basically was the Nick Hoult character, this film still hit plenty hard. It is perhaps the first food movie in living memory that actually seems to get its subject matter — the production design is pretty much flawless, all the way down to the name of the island-based restaurant at its heart (Hawthorne?! Chef’s kiss) — clearly the product of a well-documented research process that included input from some of the very culinary icons it essentially exists to mock. It is also a particularly good satire of specifically American fine dining service culture, and of the unique sort of “humour” — humble everyday food? In a fine dining restaurant? Hilarious! — beloved in these institutions. Ralph Fiennes’s line-read of “Taco Tuesday!” is the most I have laughed in a cinema this year.

Most significantly, though, The Menu is a capstone on the idea that being super-into food isn’t the uncomplicatedly cool thing it might once have been (indeed, if it ever was.) Being a certain kind of Food Guy might, in fact, be a little bit basic? TV shows like Billions and Succession have already started digging into this idea; The Menu’s director Mark Mylod is a Succession regular and his frequent, deliberate nods to Chef’s Table aesthetics suggest that he thinks Netflix (and the attendant democratisation of fine dining that it has enabled) is to blame. But in a year where The Bear was a breakout hit, it’s a little more complex than that. One takeaway is that food culture IS pop culture now, and that it will be fascinating to see how that relationship continues to evolve in the years to come. My main takeaway is simpler: please don’t say “mouth feel.”

Feroz Gajia, restaurateur and Eater London contributor:

Best: The London Feeds Itself book launch which was an absurd and joyous night in so many ways. Also going to the Anan collaboration at Rochelle Canteen, it restored my faith in event dinners. It was a truly fun evening that really showed how generosity and quality are all you need at any gathering.

Worst: Going to Salt Bae after he had left London and then being subjected to the weirdest 55-second-baklava-twisting spectacle ever seen.

Angela Hui, food writer and Eater London contributor:

Best: Shameless self-promo alert. I wrote a book! It nearly killed me! It will make you hungry! Please buy it! My friends all wrote excellent food books, too! Buy theirs here and here. In all seriousness, I’m very proud of what I created and it’s mind-blowing to see our books on EOY lists and selling out. In terms of restaurants/food world, people strategically planning shags so they can have Bake Street the next day is absolute genius.

Worst: All these insane/hilarious food accounts’ tributes to the Queen on Twitter here, here and here. Anything that closed because of the national mourning for the Queen’s death is dumb. I don’t give a fuck if you’re sad about the queen, that’s your business, but you cannot tell me that banning the weather, cancelling events, and cancelling flights is any way justifiable. Also, Toad Bakery and Sonora Taqueria being hit with legal action over naming issues that was pretty dumb too.

David Jay Paw, food writer and Eater London contributor:

Best: Anna Sulan Masing’s podcast, “Taste of Place,” for Whetstone. It was great to see the metaphorical envelope being pushed in a year when the fatigue surrounding social issues felt more palpable than previous years.

Worst: The taqueria debacle. Also, the James Corden debacle put the treatment of workers front and centre in a way that doesn’t really get discussed often enough.

Sean Wyer, writer, researcher and Eater London contributor:

Best: The best was also the worst: the shite lettuce bought by a shite newspaper that outlived a shite Prime Minister. Totally, irredeemably naff, but such is our fate.

Worst: 2022 was a big year for food businesses with too much spare cash hiring expensive lawyers to try and force a smaller businesses to change their name. This year’s headline examples — the bakery formerly known as Frog, the restaurant formerly to be known as Otto, and the taqueria still known as Taqueria Sonora — are joint-most-egregious.

Shekha Vyas, food writer and Eater London contributor:

Best: For me, it was Corn Kid. The interview with seven-year-old Tariq, who gained internet fame for expressing his love of corn on the “Recess Therapy” TikTok account, was pure joy. The resulting techno remix is still living rent-free in my head. Also, House of the Dragon star Emma D’Arcy’s pronunciation of “Negroni sbagliato” — simultaneously cementing the Christmas drink of 2022, arousing half of the internet and annoying Italians everywhere.

Isaac Rangaswami, food writer and Eater London contributor:

Best: I thought Toad Bakery’s rebrand was such a classy, defiant way of responding to the legal action thing. I’m so glad that there’s just another tailless amphibian with exactly the same amount of letters.

Worst: I did take some joy in seeing James Corden publicly shamed during the Balthazar thing, before the story got a bit confusing and kept coming back.