Food is an adventure we share with others. We invite friends into our homes to cook for them. We bake dishes for every celebration. We share big ideas over coffee or make small talk over alcohol — until people loosen up, then it's on to the philosophical discussions again. How many times have you been to a fantastic, or abysmal, restaurant and brought it up to your co-workers the next day?
Food allows us to be daring and lets us bond with one another in a way not much else can. And for the chef, the one often tying everyone together, making food is an art that allows them to share their passion.
Each of the three features in our annual dining guide explores food's social charm in some way. Laura Rebecca Kenyon takes a look at the re-emerging fondue trend, a simple culinary outlet that centers on a communal pot. Parties form around fondue, and its basic preparation allows the hosts to put their own spin on the center of attention.
Some diners will do a lot to get their photo on the wall, as writer Dave Budgar discovered. Chefs and restaurant owners break up the routine and keep food exciting by creating challenges with their menus, so Dave put himself — and his appetite — to the test with three food challenges at different local restaurants.
Finally, Eric Rezsnyak dug in to learn more about the enthusiasm that pastry chefs have for desserts. Passion has driven them to take classes, start businesses, and move halfway across the country. -- Jake Clapp