Welcome to Year in Eater 2022, Eater’s annual ritual of eulogizing the past 12 months through input from the city’s top food writers and New York figures. For 2022’s final week, Eater NY will be posting questions daily about New York City’s restaurant scene in the past year, with answers from those who know it best: Eater editors and friends of Eater. Now: What was the most surprising — or funniest — news story in NYC this year?
Nicolas Heller, New York Nico: The Keith McNally and James Corden beef.
Stephanie Wu, editor-in-chief, Eater: It has to be the discovery that there are people out there who order an egg-yolk omelet.
Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet, photographer: Slutty Vegan will call you a “slut” when you get your order. That was fun to me.
Caroline Shin, contributor, Eater NY: This superhero story made me go “Whaaat?” About a dozen teens went inside Amy’s Chinese Restaurant in Bayside, harassed customers, pushed the owner to the ground, and ran out. His wife, Cathy Lu, ran after them, and when they all got on a bus, stood in front of it and asked the driver to close the doors until the police came. She is so badass. Especially in light of the still ongoing violence against AAPIs.
Mahira Rivers, food journalist: It’s been an eventful year for restaurant criticism in New York. The New York Times brought back its stars after a pandemic hiatus (starting, no less, with three stars for a lechón food truck in the Bronx, which, to be clear, I am a big fan of). Adam Platt and the Robs all retired from their columns at New York where Tammie Teclemariam became the new Underground Gourmet critic; excellent news for fans of the column, including myself. And R.I.P. Hungry City!
Christopher Robbins, editor, Hell Gate: I am going to brag and direct you to Hell Gate’s “What Was The NYC Crab Boil Boom?” by Kate Mooney. We had so many of those crab joints spring up, and now they’re all gone. What happened?
Sara, Madison, and Carly Shapiro, Sister Snacking: X-Rated bakeries!! This is crazy and they can’t even post on social media what their product looks like without getting taken down (our video of Kinky’s in the Lower East Side got taken down). We didn’t expect to see so many places like this.
Scott Lynch, contributor, Hell Gate and Brooklyn Magazine: No way I would have predicted the Great Pandemic Era Food Hall Revival, but there have been four big openings in the fall (the best of which, Urban Hawker, is worth a trip), and that huge Google one at Pier 57 is coming soon. Runner up: Rock Center as a dining destination.
Moonlynn Tsai, co-founder, Heart of Dinner: It was surprising how much of a splash it made when James Corden was banned from Balthazar...people cared that much?
Carina Kaufman-Gutierrez, deputy director, the Street Vendor Project: There are a lot of funny and surprising things that street vendors see, hear, and experience working 10-12 hour shifts on the streets of New York, and the stories of how they come to open their businesses. But these aren’t stories that usually make the news. Media typically focuses on enforcement, or the difficulties vendors face, which absolutely need to be told — but the lack of human-interest stories on vendors continues to keep this industry and the incredible stories of street vendors themselves in the shadows.
Korsha Wilson, food journalist: The James Corden/McNally drama was funny to watch… but not funny ‘haha’, funny ‘weird’.
Jaeki Cho, host, Righteous Eats: LA Times had a story about certain creators getting paid as high as $10K or more for a post to highlight eateries. Essentially, branded content that’s not clearly defined as an ad. We created a response to that, because 1) we’re creators in the same space and 2) how different our values are when it comes to featuring small businesses. For instance, we don’t charge eateries that we feature, in fact, we pay for all the meals we highlight. Then again, I don’t want to knock people’s hustle.
Ryan Sutton, chief food critic, Eater NY: I’m not surprised that the James Corden Balthazar scandal got a lot of attention, but it’s absolutely wild that the developments seemed to keep unfolding, and that people were still writing about this a week later; indeed, here I am myself, writing about it months later. Part of me initially thought it was an Andy Kaufman-esque stunt (“we actually got people to say ‘egg yolk omelet’”), though Corden, during a New York Times interview, seemed to quash my “staged publicity” theory by declaring he had done nothing wrong and saying other dumb things.