04 October 2011

The Stuff Magazine 2011 Dining Awards

[Photograph by Conor Doherty]

For the fifth year running, I got to write the annual Stuff Magazine Dining Awards cover feature. Longtime readers (of the 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 editions) will remember that my take on this hoary old standby of food journalism aims for irreverence, drawing inspiration from sources like Esquire's bygone "Dubious Achievement Awards". There are no traditional best-of categories, and I assiduously try to avoid self-seriousness as I recognize some of my favorite chefs, venues, dishes, drinks, charities, farmstands, trends and moments from the past twelve months of Boston's ever-evolving dining and drinking scene. (Editorial director Scott Kearnan wrote a funny introduction to the issue here.)

The biweekly Stuff Magazine focuses on Boston nightlife, fashion, food and drink, and is the home of my recurring Food Coma column on Boston fine dining restaurants. I'm grateful it gives me the leeway to recognize both the refinement of a fabulous new chef-owned fine-dining establishment like Bondir, as well as the humble charms of its neighbor Camie's Bakery, a modest Haitian restaurant. I'm pretty sure Stuff will be the only local publication to hand out awards for fried bologna, insects served as food (on purpose), Salvadoran sopa de mariscos, and Australian meat pies this year -- and of course, the annual Biggest Balls Award for a bit of questionable audacity on the part of a local nightlife operator.

The balance this year is more laudatory than critical, but fear not; I save the most antic snark for my annual Devil's Dining Awards (as I did in 2010 and 2009), which I'll publish on this blog in December.

Many thanks to photographer Conor Doherty, who lent me one of the outtakes from his hilarious cover shoot for the issue. Left to right, that's chefs Louis DiBiccari, Will Gilson, and Jamie Bissonnette (in the lucha libre mask), winners of my "Kia Soul Giant Hamsters Award for Funniest Ad" (rendered by my editors as the "Clio-Goes-Culinary Award for Funniest Ad".)