My Memorable Dinners of 2022

By Sophie Gayot

Being a chef is no easy job

December 2022

As the year 2022 is coming to a close, I have reflected on my dining experiences since January 1st. The total count is more than one hundred and fifty meals served by chefs, either in their restaurants or at events. While they have left colorful traces on my phone or computer with photos and videos, the souvenirs from one another have covered the gamut of impressions from the very best to “I want to leave right now” or “I will never come back.” Yes, it has happened a few times in the past eleven months, but “shh” I will be discreet and won’t tell you exactly where it was (or at least not here). I am sure you have been confronted with this situation, and hopefully it doesn’t happen too often.

What creates a memorable dinner: the cuisine, the décor, the chef, the setting, the wine list, the ingredients, the atmosphere, the produce, the service, the cocktail program, the dishware, the plating, the linens? The combination of all in different graduation and quantity? I think we have to add to the list the mood of the day, and the context in which we are dining out. Another important factor is the expectation; there you can be deceived or, to the contrary, surprised. It can totally change the outcome of the dining affair.

After carefully looking at my long list, which tends to prove it sometimes feels good to stay home with a mere apple and simply water, seven restaurants set themselves apart — and all for different reasons.

Here they are, presented in alphabetical order. See photo galleries and video(s) for each of them.

1. Carversteak, Elegant Steak Time | Las Vegas, NV

Photo © GAYOT.com

GAYOT’s Rating15/20

A steakhouse where I was taken by surprise by the talent of chef Daniel Ontiveros. I thought I was just going to go to “another” steakhouse.

(Includes an exclusive video with the chef.)

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2. Christopher’s at the Wrigley Mansion, A Poetic Chef | Phoenix, AZ

Photo © GAYOT.com

GAYOT’s Rating18/20

Chef Christopher Gross’s talent is undeniable and creates an epic moment. It is one of those very few restaurants where it is worth flying to if you have the time (and the means).

(Includes an exclusive video with the wine director.)

3. El Celler, The Weight of History | Montsonís, Catalonia, Spain

GAYOT’s Rating14/20

You are not going to end up in Montsonis by chance. So, how can you forget the Catalonian cuisine of two young, talented chefs by a medieval castle?

4. Gabriel Kreuther, Welcome to GAYOT’s Highest Rating | New York, NY

Photo © GAYOT.com

GAYOT’s Rating19/20

As soon as Alsatian chef Gabriel Kreuther opened his eponymous restaurant in challenging New York City, he made GAYOT’s 2016 Best New Restaurants in the U.S.

It was only a matter of time until Kreuther moved to the very top. A no-fault très haute gastronomical moment.

5. La Boucherie, High Steaks | InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown, CA

Photo © GAYOT.com

GAYOT’s Rating15/20

You will be officiating from the 71st floor for more than just carnivore flavors. Arrive on time for the sunset; and considering the wine list, you might think of not driving your own car. Stay as long as you can to enjoy the grand décor and the food.

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6. La Condesa, Culinary Imagination & Creations | Paris, France

Photo © GAYOT.com

GAYOT’s Rating18/20

When a 34-year-old chef from Mexico City comes to Paris to challenge his French peers — and I have to admit he’s done so with talent and success,

7. The Marine Room, Dining with The Waves | La Jolla, CA

Photo © GAYOT.com

GAYOT’s Rating15/20

An extremely small number of people can claim to have a private beach along the California coast. As you can see from the photo, The Marine Room is literally on the sand. The chef works very hard to be up to Mother Nature’s decorum.

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