As is the tradition at Eater, it's time for the annual Year in Eater survey. For the National version, we asked a group of notable chefs, editorial folks and—bonus—various Eater city editors a series of questions. All will be answered by the time we turn off the lights on Thursday. Responses are related in no particular order; all are cut, pasted and unedited herein:
New York City's Marea, a common standout. [Krieger, 10/1/09]
Thomas Keller: Instead of single best meal I can tell you my single best dish of 2009: the fusilli pasta with baby octopus, bone marrow and tomato from Marea in NYC. I’ve had it several times this year and it is just sublime.
James Oseland, Saveur: Easy. The meal that was served on the last episode of Top Chef Masters, season 1, where cheftestants Rick Bayless, Michael Chiarello, and Hubert Keller cooked up their culinary biographies in four amazing courses. From Bayless’s barbecued quail to Keller’s baekehoffe, memories of this oh-my-God meal continue to be the stuff of my culinary wet dreams.
Charlie Palmer: Dinner at Per Se to celebrate my wedding anniversary. We had one dish - roasted hamachi collar, that was served on a bed of coals with burning embers. The flavors were incredible and the presentation was extraordinary.
Kate Krader, Food & Wine: I had a crazy good dinner at Marea that included the lobster with burrata antipasti, ferratini pasta with clams and squid and chiles (which I like better than the octopus-bone marrow one) and ridiculous turbot. My favorite dishes are at Locanda, including the sheep's milk ricotta, almost any pasta, but especially the one with Sunday night ragout, broccoli rabe sausage with gigante beans. But my very best meal was at Le Bernardin with Frank Bruni for a story he did for Food & Wine - Eric ripert killed it everywhere from charred octopus with black bean sauce (Frank said something like it's chinese take out food gone to three-star heaven) to surf and turf escolar and kobe beef. Wines, and there were a lot of them, were awesome. But it was also the whole story which was Frank Bruni as the world's most difficult customer.
Michael Mina: Urasawa, Beverly Hills
Ben Leventhal: Has to be the 12-course pasta/crudo tasting at Marea, an obscene, decadent roller coaster of riches. Honorable mention to the Animal pop-up in Montauk and a nameless surf bar in Jako, Costa Rica, where a simple dish of raw tuna, avocado and rice blew my mind.
Lesley Abravanel, Eater Miami: Dinner at Woodfire Grill in Atlanta....Kevin Gillespie was rockin' the pork on the open flames but he also rocked a little Voltaggio brothers with an amuse bouche of deconstructed borscht. Back in Miami, best meal was tied between a comprehensive tapas tasting at Sra. Martinez and the pork chop at Michael's Genuine Food & Drink.
Eva Hagberg, Eater PDX: Dinner at Beast the week I moved to Portland...made me feel like I was in exactly the right place.
Kat Odell, Eater LA: Braise short ribs w chick peas, simple green salad at Ad Hoc.
Amanda Kludt, Eater NY: New York: Joseph Leonard. Nationwide: an incredibly fun and delicious omakase dinner at Sushi Park this summer in LA.
Morabito: Brunch at Hudson Point Cafe in Port Townsend, WA. Fresh, perfectly cooked food with a view of the Olympic Peninsula. Alice Waters' head would have exploded.
Lucchesi: In the Bay Area, Manresa. In New York, Momofuku Ko.