Thirteen must be my lucky number. That’s how many Bon Appetit restaurant issues I’ve worked on. My role has changed over the years, from spell-checking Kokkari Estiatorio in 2001 to choosing the Hot 10 in 2009, the first time we made such a list. But I’ve got to admit: This is the issue I’m most proud of. I’ve traveled more, eaten more, spent more, and endured more sleepless nights deciding whom to include than any year prior. I think you’ll be able to see (or is it taste?) the passion for all things food that went into this issue.
There would not be a list without the help of my Norwegian father-in-law, Terje Skogly–or Teddy, as I call him. You see, each year I choose an alias so I can eat anonymously. I’ve used the names of ex-Atlanta Braves. (In Atlanta, the staff would look at me in disappointment when I checked in.) One year, I was Bo Circle, my porn name (i.e., my childhood pet plus the street I grew up on). This year, I became Mr. Skogly. I don’t know how many times I said “Teddy, like the bear, S-K-O-G-L-Y” when making a reservation. But it worked.
Had Teddy actually dined with me during my quest for the best of the best, he would have sat at countless marble bars, begun his tasting menus with a barrage of dazzling snacks, and had his entrees delivered by the chefs who prepared them, among the other elements that defined dining out in 2013. He would have sampled Macanese food for the first time and slurped more oysters than he could ever have imagined. He would have had a mind-blowing meal at a scrappy spot in Los Angeles that quickly rose to number one, and scooped up bites of the dish of the year at pretty much every stop. In the end, he would have discovered a dining scene that is being reinvented by a band of young chefs (33 is the average age on this list), and one that knows no creative or geographic boundaries. These men and women have inspired me, and I know that they’ll inspire you, too.
Thanks, Teddy. I owe you dinner. I know a few good spots. You free in 2014?