In my family, food has always been the focal point of any gathering. I’m sure I’m not alone in that either.

After breakfast has ended, it’s usually time to then plan our next activities around when and where lunch will be, whether on vacation or locally, especially when family from out-of-state visit.

Both my maternal and paternal grandmothers could hold their own in the kitchen, whether it was with sweet treats, like homemade fudge and a Twinkie cake or potato salad and a Jell-O dessert made for the respective occasions that called for those dishes. Growing up, my mom made dinner every night and still does for herself and my dad.

Me, on the other hand? I don’t cook much of anything, unless you count my mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving, which are a favorite among my family. Otherwise, I’m more of a baker when I do venture into the kitchen or find a recipe online that I’m anxious to try. Though I admire the talents of people who actually know their way around a kitchen.

Thankfully, Bakersfield has been blessed with some culinary experts in a variety of cuisines — Thai, Mexican, Greek, Mediterranean, Basque and more, making for a diversity of options.

We also can’t forget about our local diners and coffee shops that provide the right atmosphere for heart-to-hearts or simply just a good cup of coffee with breakfast.

Our community has a lot to choose from when it comes to dining, whether you’re looking for something on the upscale side for a night on the town or a casual catch-up lunch with friends.

We hope this issue covers a multitude of flavors, experiences and atmospheres that the local spots provide customers, and that you’ll find a new favorite along the way. We’ve also highlighted what it takes to be a chef, sprucing up your kitchen and even playing host for a party of your own.

But no matter how you choose to eat your meal at night, whether it’s fixing something at home or venturing out, food has a way of bringing people together, and that’s what we want to celebrate in the next few pages.

Bon appétit!

Shelby Parker

Editor

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Follow her on Instagram: @shelbyparker92