Our Favorite Food and Travel Photos From 2016

Our art department’s best from Patagonia to Western China

By Michelle Heimerman and Matt Taylor-Gross

Published on December 26, 2016

Every year, the SAVEUR art department processes tens of thousands of images from dozens of photographers. These are the ones they can't stop looking at—and downloading as desktop wallpapers. Take a look at the favorites from photo editor Michelle Heimerman and staff photographer Matt Taylor-Gross.

Michelle's Picks

Importer Nicolas Palazzi tastes some of the most exclusive spirits around the world, and this image captures that intimate moment between him and a splash of an eaux-de-vie at the Rochelt Distillery in Austria.

There are few elaborate food spreads that can have a more interesting backstory than when shooting a story about the world's oldest winery in Armenia. Here, the group settles in for lunch after a visit to the Areni-1 complex, a cave that archeologists unearthed in 2007 housing the oldest known winery dating back 6,100 years.

We're at the very end of the earth, in the middle of Patagonia's expansive plains where you drive miles down dirt roads before stumbling upon anything. This portrait of Carlos "Carlota" Mansilla, a local gaucho, was taken while sitting in his cabin, sharing some mate tea from the gauchos' communal tin bombilla straw and hollowed-out gourd.

In one photograph, this perfectly captures the essence of Chilean Patagonia life. Completely unposed, we were driving into Torres Del Paine National Park as New York-based photographer William Hereford hung out the window to grab the local gaucho on the job.

An outtake from our Origins Issue cover shoot, this Pan-Seared Chicken with Riesling Cream Sauce, Chanterelles, and Chard was shot by photographer Beth Galton, styled by Mariana Velasquez, and propped by Lithuanian ceramicists Owls in Bowls.

Still life photography is all about simplicity paired with perfect lighting. Another from our studio shoot with Beth Galton, this was for a root vegetables story, so lit to resemble the underground vegetables in the most beautiful way possible.

Street scene from our story on Indian food and culture in Durban, Capetown-based photographer David Crookes captures the smoke and food preparation that is a common site across this pocket of South Africa.

Our Summer issue cover, photographed at Elizabeth Cecil's outdoor studio in Martha's Vineyard.

An outtake from the summer cover shoot in Martha's Vineyard, these fish were soon to be grilled and stuffed with pebre sauce, but they looked too beautiful to not capture raw with the harsh sunlight.

While overhead food photos tend to be overdone, the composition, tones and subtle details such as the piping, rusted walls, and chicken head peering through the broth, completely transports you to this little island of Hainan in the South China Sea, that was shot by Bangkok-based photographer Jason Lan for our deep dive into the origins of Hainan Chicken.

A moment that transports you into the daily life of workers at Jookjangyeon, a jang producer in Eastern Korea, as they boil soybeans in large iron pots called gamasot.

Certainly one of the most colorful recipes of the year, this shaved carrot tart with ricotta was the equivalent of having the most beautiful model in front of your lens.

A three-day-long shoot in Biarritz, France with Helene Darroze had just wrapped up. I was checking out of our hotel and this scene, comparable to a still from a 1950's French film, happened to roll out in front of me. The ocean breeze perfectly styled the couple returning to Hotel du Palais after shopping in town as the waiter serves guests lunch at Villa Eugenie.

I knew little about the culture and mystique of far western China until I had to produce this story, where Istanbul-based photographer Mathias Depardon captured a local woman preparing polo, a traditional Uyghur rice pilaf flavored with mutton and shredded orange and yellow carrot, in her stall at Urumqi's night market near the International Bazaar.

A local commuter in Urumqi pauses for photographer Mathias Depardon as other locals carry about their daily lives in the background.

We were unable to photograph a mid-summer Provencal feast at Lulu Peyraud's idealistic vineyard kitchen, but this studio shot gets you pretty close with the warm lighting, elegant propping, and dishes like stuffed squid, grilled quail, spring vegetable stew, and tian of eggplant, tomatoes and zucchini.

Matt's Picks

These are dusty bliss, the cookie recipe our old copy editor Jacob's mom would make for the holidays. Jacob wrote about them for the website after he got back from Oklahoma. It was such a lovely and heartfelt piece, written like a thank-you letter to his mom. It was very moving and I'm glad I got to be a part of the story.

These are persimmons, and until very recently I had never tasted one nor had any idea how to cut one open. But because of test kitchen associate Kristy Mucci and her love of all things fancy, now I do, and I'm looking forward to next persimmons season.

DISCO FRIES! Enough said.

I love the Charleston Wine and Food Festival. Not only is Charleston a beautiful and charming town with a great food scene, but the festival is five days of incredible wine and food and amazing chefs from all over with Charleston as the backdrop. It's more fun than should be allowed and there are surprises at every turn, for example, finding Damon Wise smoking whole goat behind a coffee shop for a party later that night (where I ate the goat and drank ALL the wine).

This was from a story about New Jersey pork roll. We did a couple of recipes, including these caviar-topped canapes, and the art direction for this was, "if the Jersey Governor had a New Year's Eve ball."

In February I went to Miami to shoot a fishing story with Tom Colicchio. We went out on a tiny little fishing boat way way way out in the ocean. The water was real rough that day. The writer got sea sick and I almost fell off the boat because of the choppiness, and we didn't catch anything. But it was beautiful to be out there and one of the more fun things I did this year.

This is Vivian Howard, the Southern chef I have a mostly-healthy obsession with. I've been a fan of her show since day one, so when she came into the SAVEUR office to do a dinner with us, I had to snag a portrait. She's as lovely and low-key and funny as she comes across on her show.

Vivian Howard's tomato pie! Like looking at the gates to heaven.

Finally found a use for all those cocktail umbrellas in the prop closet. And got to drink a classic daiquiri made by bartender John McCarthy.

Since I'm from Texas, I have a soft spot for tres leches cake. And I just really like this image with that crazy blue tablecloth. Makes me feel like I'm at a picnic in Zilker park.

This job has done a lot for me, but most importantly it has introduced me to amari and aperitifs. One summer day we spent the day tasting bitter red Italian spirits like Campari. AS A JOB.

Francis Mallmann is a badass. Plain and simple. And the Faena hotel is so beautiful. My butler offered to unpack for me but I was like "um my toiletries are in a zip lock so no."

I got to spend Labor Day weekend traveling around New Mexico shooting a story about Hatch chiles. New Mexico is an incredible state with great food.

This is the Hatch Chile Pepper Festival Queen. She's still in high school, but the crown comes with tuition help for college.

Like I said, New Mexico's beautiful. I described it like living in a Georgia O'Keefe painting and got hate mail for doing so. Couldn't be more proud.

Marcus Samuelsson has more energy and passion than anyone I know. And knows every person in Harlem. We spent a few hours hours running all over with Marcus exploring his Harlem. It was a lot of darting in and out of places and hopping into cabs and slamming plates of food and saying hi to neighbors, the way only he can.

The Best of 2016

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