by Eric Barton | December 30, 2021

Eight Food Stories to Remember from 2021

New restaurants, rising star chefs and hotly debated culinary controversies that got our minds off of all the craziness in 2021.


Growing up, when I had a baseball game where I couldn’t keep my eye on the ball (more common than I’d like to admit) or another tipless paper route (which undoubtedly dates me), my dad would make meatloaf. Big Al, as my friends called him, would use a standard Betty Crocker-esque recipe. He basted it with a Worcestershire ketchup and served it with a heap of dry ramen noodles.

It wasn’t anything worthy of today’s food-obsessed Instagram, but it was comforting, a dish that corrected whatever had gone wrong at the middle school dance in Stanislaus Hall. 

Food does that; it helps us heal and forget and brings us together in ways that can make even the problems of today seem far away. We’re ending 2021 with the same kind of headlines that closed out 2020. But hopefully these stories from the past year or so will be like that dish you’d request at the end of a bad day—a bit of the magic correction that comes from something tasty.

Either way, we’ve assembled a few of our favorite epicurean reads of this year, tales of great restaurants and talented chefs, people in our state attracting attention for their novel approach, that just might be as comforting as Big Al’s meatloaf.

Chef Henry Moso helms Kabooki Sushin in Orlando. Photography by Christian Lebon.

Like Mother, Like Son: How Culinary Brilliance Runs in Chef Henry Moso’s Family

What’s more American than the tale of an immigrant not only making it but helping her son become a star? We sat down with Orlando chef Henry Moso to learn the secrets behind his sushi success.

The Well Floridian Lounge located in Pensacola. Photography courtesy of The Well Floridian Lounge.

11 New & Noteworthy Openings Around the State

There’s good news in the world of restaurants. A slew of cozy wine bars, neighborhood eateries and secret speakeasies opened this year. Here’s what we’re adding to our 2022 Florida bucket list.

The Cuban sandwich has ties to the Florida Keys, Miami and Tampa. Photography courtesy of iStock.

The Contentious History of the Cuban Sandwich

The dish that was maybe invented in Florida has a history that’s up for heated debate. Who can lay claim to the Cuban sandwich? It might not be who you think.

Chef Steve Phelps of Sarasota’s Indigenous. Photography courtesy of Indigenous.

Five Chefs Dominating Florida’s Dining Scene 

Few food scenes are as hot as Florida these days, and we’ve got some real superstars. From budding bakers to chefs focusing on innovation and sustainability, here are the culinary hotshots we’ll be watching in 2022.

The painkiller at Hotel Haya’s Flor Fina in Ybor City. Photography by Amy Pezzicara.

Must-Try Restaurants Around the State Series

We scoured every inch of the Sunshine State to bring you the best of the best in every region. From high-end hotel hot spots spearheaded by James Beard Award-winning chefs to family-run pizzerias specializing in Neapolitan pies, here are the hottest restaurants in North, Central and South Florida.