Today we announce the winners of the ninth annual Eater Awards, celebrating the standout achievements of a jam-packed year in the food and restaurant world. The Eater Awards are meant to honor the people who shaped the way we thought about, talked about, and ultimately experienced dining this year — in restaurants, on television, and at home.
Eater Awards aren’t the only accolades we use to define the year in feasting — we’ve got lists of the year’s Best New Restaurants and nationwide essentials, too. But in 2018, it’s important to shine the spotlight on the people who cut through the noise of our social-media feeds, made the case for finding joy at the table, and asked us to ask for more from what we consume.
Here now, the 2018 Eater Award winners:
Chef of the Year: Samin Nosrat
No, Samin Nosrat — who popped onto most people’s radars in 2018 as the host of Netflix’s celebrated documentary series Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat — doesn’t lead a restaurant kitchen. But when future generations look back at this year in dining, those perspectives will be shaped by the conversations Nosrat brought to the table: Through her intellectual curiosity and appreciation for the sheer pleasure of eating, Nosrat is leading a community of cooks into their home kitchens and elevating the voices of those previously unheard.
Breakout Star of the Year: Nite Yun
Nite Yun’s first sit-down restaurant, Oakland’s Cambodian-inflected Nyum Bai, opened earlier this year and quickly snapped up nearly every restaurant-world accolade possible: Eater national critic Bill Addison called it “one of the new pinnacles among Oakland’s incredibly dynamic dining scene.” Reflecting on her major year, Yun calls the runaway success “surreal,” but notes that when it comes to achieving her goals of bringing Cambodian food and culture to a broader audience, she’s just getting started, making her a chef to watch not just in 2019, but in the years to come.
Design of the Year: Bavel, Los Angeles
Bavel co-owner Genevieve Gergis, along with Studio UNLTD, turned a former clothing warehouse in downtown Los Angeles into a tribute to the Middle Eastern coast, complete with touches that will go down as hallmarks of restaurant design in 2018: live plants cascading from the ceiling, colorful tiles, and mixtures of brass and rose gold. The result feels simultaneously bright, opulent, and full of energy, but also totally fresh and modern.
Cookbook of the Year: Anita Lo, Solo
New York City chef Anita Lo, who shuttered her 17-year-old restaurant Anissa last year, inspired countless home cooks with the anthesis of a “restaurant cookbook”: Solo: A Modern Cookbook Party for One, celebrates the act (and the art) of cooking for yourself. Lo does so not just with pared-down recipes that actually work, but also in her conversational tone that’s all about affirmation. In a year when “self care” became a buzzworthy phrase, Solo is one of the best guidebooks for achieving it.
#Brand of the Year: Antoni Porowski
Netflix’s heartwarming Queer Eye reboot exploded earlier this year, making instant stars of its new “Fab Five.” But it was food expert Antoni Porowski who’s been at the forefront of the pop-culture conversation, turning some internet side-eye about his cooking skills (and over-reliance on avocado as an ingredient) into a personal brand that, like the show, places personal wellness and life’s simple pleasures — with a wink — front and center.
Food TV Duo of the Year: Nicole Byer and Jacques Torres
The simple pleasures of Netflix’s Nailed It! lie primarily in the good-natured fun of watching a cake disaster in real time, but without a doubt, there are no better guides through the pitfalls of reality-television failure than the dynamic duo of Nicole Byer and Jacques Torres. The comedian and celebrated pastry chef might seem an unlikely pairing, but their chemistry soars: It’s playful, good-natured, and reveals the genuine appreciation Byer and Torres have for each other. The realm of food competition is so much better with them around.