Serious Eats is extremely lucky to be able to work with a number of profoundly creative and talented photographers, designers, and illustrators. Not only do they bring a high degree of skill to the work they do, but many of them are impressive home cooks and stylists as well. The end result is a homepage and archive on our site that has never looked better.
Our team was asked to pick the images from the past year that stood out to them, and what follows are their selections. Just know that as you read our work, cook our recipes, and dig into the history of the site, there are a bevy of additional, gorgeous images and illustrations for you to find, and it's all thanks to these artists who manage to bring every piece of content to life with their work.
I keep dreaming of the green swirls in Amanda Suarez's photos of this recipe from Chetna Makan. I've always known saag paneer as a dish of paneer cheese in a creamy spinach sauce, but only this year learned that saag paneer is a bit of a misnomer and not really what one would find in India. That's because saag normally refers to a dish made with mustard greens, not spinach, and it isn't typically cooked with paneer (at least, that's the impression I've been left with through various conversations about it). Palak paneer, on the other hand, is the spinach-and-cheese dish, and Chetna's comes through so vibrantly in this photo; it's unlike any "saag paneer" I've ever had before. All reports from the SE staff who have cooked this recipe are that it's insanely good, so it's high on my list of ones to cook—and these photos make it really easy for my memory to not lose track of it. —Daniel Gritzer, senior culinary director
Nigerian Jollof Rice
Maureen Celestine shot each of our new Nigerian recipes published this year (which is a massive undertaking!) and delivered stunning photos each time. Her strong sense of color and immensely instructional step photos are always a pleasure to edit, but my jaw dropped when I saw her jollof rice images. The contrast of the blue dishes with the deep orange rice and the yellow table runner create such an inviting scene that I instantly knew this would become one of my favorite photos on Serious Eats. —Amanda Suarez, senior visual editor
Mixed Berry Trifle
I may be biased because I had a hand in making the trifle for the camera, but this photo is pure magic. Between its wobbly jelly, sweet fruit, and generous layers of crème légère and whipped cream, this dessert is just so irresistibly charming. Plus, it tastes divine. —Kristina Razon, editor
The Best Moules Marinières (Sailor-Style Mussels)
I am incredibly lucky to be able to work with not just our talented Senior Visual Editor, Amanda Suarez, but a team of skilled freelance photographers who are reshooting some our most beloved (but older) recipes. And since part of my job is to review the work of the freelancers, every week I get a sneak peek of the visual splendor soon to be published on Serious Eats.
Having to pick just one image to highlight feels unfair, as all of our photographers do an incredible job and I would not weigh one against another. But it's true that one photo stands out for me; it's not necessarily better than any other, but it is my favorite. That image is Qi Ai's reshoot of The Best Moules Marinières (Sailor-Style Mussels). Eveything about the lead image sings, from the lighting and composition to the placement and props that were selected. And the food itself looks spectacularly well-prepared and delicious. It's a photo that made me go buy the ingredients and cook this myself. —Jake Dean, updates editorContinue to 5 of 12 below.
A Vegetarian's Christmas Eve Pig Roast
For our last illustration of the year, Marla Cruz Linares created a magical scene full of music and laughter for the feature, A Vegetarian's Christmas Eve Pig Roast. I am obsessed with the energy of this illustration and would have loved to be invited to this Cuban Noche Buena Pig Roast in Miami. Marla captured the idea of the feature perfectly, and her composition and line work are so enticing. —Amanda Suarez
Bubbles! A Serious Eats Digital Issue
I love, love, love all the visuals on the Bubbles! page. The way the bubbles float up, the way the light on the bread changes—it's beautiful and so well done. I'm mesmerized and could stare at it for hours! —Genevieve Yam, culinary editor
The Wok: A Serious Eats Digital Issue
The whole The Wok digital issue is such a triumph, both editorially and visually. I adore every single image in this issue, as well as all of the videos (the one of the wok being made is unreal!).
I'd also love to give a shoutout to all of the product photography Grace Kelly, our associate commerce editor, does! You can see a few recent stories she wrote and shot here, here, and here. Product photography is very tough and Grace has pushed the SE commerce team in such a positive direction photo-wise. It's incredible! - Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm, commerce editor
Homemade French Baguettes
I feel like I don't even need to explain this choice, just look at that crust! Not only did Andrew Janjijan develop this incredibly in-depth baguette recipe, but he also photographed it for our Bubbles! digital issue. This recipe has over 50 images (including 3 gifs!) which Andrew shot to help guide readers, and are some of the most successful process photos on the site. I'm a little sad because I will now be juding every baguette I see against the beautiful ones in this header photo and I know few—if any—will be a worthy comparison. —Amanda SuarezContinue to 9 of 12 below.
We Tested 7 Water Filter Pitchers—Two Stood Out
I was so impressed when our freelancer Abby Clarkin sent in her photos for our water filter pitchers review. The lighting! The blue watery backdrop! The overall aqua, underwater vibe! Water filter pitchers aren’t exactly the most photogenic of equipment, and she made them look near beautiful in all their watery glory. —Grace Kelly, associate commerce editor
Misen Roasting Pan Review
I can't stop thinking about the roast that Amanda shot for the Misen roasting pan review. After trying and failing many times to capture process and motion in phtoographs, I love how instructive and distinct each photo is and how beautifully they frame the pan in action. The roast is just a feast, perched on top of an overflowing abundance of aromatics and vegetables, making my mouth water every time I see it. There are a lot of spectacularly plated dishes that Amanda has shot this year, but these photos just beautifully capture what this pan is and what it does, and that's such a hard thing to do with this much purpose and clarity. —Jesse Raub, commerce writer
Can You Stop Beans From Making You Fart? We Put 17 Methods to the Test
While the photography on our site is always vibrant and beautiful, I absolutely love whenever we get the chance to commission an illustration. We've worked with a lot of talented illustrators, and it's incredible to see what their minds conjure up from just a short brief on the piece their art will be accompanying. This illustration from Michelle Kondrich for the beans investigation featured in our Bubbles! digital issue immediately grabbed my attention. I was fascinated with how much detail she included, from giving the books relevant (and hilarious!) names to including our website with a beans recipe in the image of the laptop. It's illustrations like this that, when combined with the words of our many marvellous writers, help bring a piece to life. —Yasmine Maggio, associate editor
Pastel de Atún (Mexican Tuna Cake)
Shamelessly including one of my own photos here! I shot this during one of my first production weeks working with Kristina in the test kitchen, and we had so much fun bringing this recipe to life! After learning the dish could be described as a "tuna fish birthday cake," we had a great time leaning into the levity of this beach picnic dish, and took a good half hour figuring out the best way to "decorate" the top of the cake. I love the way the orange and pink pop off the screen in this photo. —Amanda Suarez