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Andrew KiralyIf there’s one thing I can’t stand about tragedy and death — aside from, of course, its own tragical deathitude — it’s that spirit-sapping side effect of making life’s everyday pleasures feel shallow and dumb. I can only express it with a torturously mixed metaphor: The headline cycle that seems to feed on our fear and anxiety — and since October 1, it only seems to have lurched into voracious overdrive — won’t be sated, it seems, until we’re all collectively screaming How can you think about  _________  at a time like this?! in a permanent nightmare loop.

To which I say: Maybe this is EXACTLY the time to think about  _________. Not out of escapist impulse but, rather, to celebrate, perhaps defiantly, higher human values and talents. Perhaps it’s a facile proposition that the culinary sorcery on display in this year’s Restaurant Awards should take on a special resonance, but now seems a good moment to appreciate the myriad ways that food can nourish, delight, and inspire us. Additionally, many of this year’s honorees share a refreshing outsider status that suggests the faces of fine dining are diversifying, and that bucking tradition and defying received truth can make for some downright amazing dishes. Get a taste of our winners on p. 48.

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Then, and only then, turn to p. 65 to enjoy our feature, “What It’s Like.” In this collection of illustrated vignettes, Las Vegans recount Crazy Big Major Life Experiences, from funny to painful to painful-but-in-a-good-way. Variety, spice, life.

If you’ve enjoyed this read, wait until you get your hands on a bunch of these reads from contemporary voices mining the good stuff from Las Vegas — all laid out in a gorgeous design experience. Subscribe. It comes to your house. For real!