PEOPLE's Food Faves of 2020: Dwayne Johson, Tik Tok Chefs, Celebrity Roses & More!

The Spirit Guru: Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson

The actor, 48, launched his own tequila brand, Teremana, just before nationwide lockdowns began in March, and it’s been flying off shelves since. “I looked at this as an opportunity to create a tequila experience that brings people together in good times, not-so-good times and everything in between,” Johnson tells PEOPLE. Smooth with hints of citrus and vanilla, the tequila is something he “spent years developing” to get right. “We went through 113 distillations before we perfected it. That’s a lot of fun tastings!” The famously fit actor is known for his over-the-top pancake “cheat meals”—and makes his own booze-infused maple syrup—but he also says the liquor “aligns beautifully” with his diet. “Every bottle features nutritional information, making us one of the first spirits to do so,” he says.

 

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Food & Travel Show: Taste the Nation

This summer Padma Lakshmi’s new Hulu series debuted, examining the origins of American cuisine. Whether eating fry bread with Native Americans in Arizona or exploring San Francisco’s Chinatown with comedian Ali Wong, she is funny, curious, politically conscious and hungry to learn. Thankfully they’ll be serving up a second season.

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Food Festival: BottleRock

Although the star-studded outdoor music, wine and food event in Napa, Calif., was canceled when shelter-in-place orders were put into effect, the show will go on next year! In May Stevie Nicks, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Dave Matthews Band will perform while celebrity chefs (and surprise guests like Snoop Dogg and his enormous gin and juice in 2018) hit the culinary stage. May 28-30, bottlerocknapavalley.com

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Spice Rack: Diaspora Co.

These fresh, delightfully flavorful spices— sustainably grown on small, organic farms across India—include heirloom varietals of everything from ground turmeric and sannam chiles to whole coriander and peppercorns. “We grow at the rate of agriculture—when a harvest sells out, that’s it until the next season,” says founder Sana Javeri Kadri. $10 and up, diasporaco.com

 

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Kitchen Gadget: Instant Vortex Plus Air Fryer

Yes, you should get an air fryer! The family-size, stainless-steel unit cooks up crispy fries and wings using very little oil. (It’s actually a small convection oven, so there’s no real frying involved.) There are also five other cooking settings—roast, broil, bake, reheat and dehydrate—so it’ll be handy on more than just game day. $120, crateandbarrel.com

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Taste of Travel: Disney @ Home

As its theme parks worldwide faced sudden temporary closures, Disney satisfied fans’ appetites by providing recipes for its most popular treats like pineapple Dole Whip, churros and Mickey Mouse-shaped beignets. disneyparks.disney.go.com

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Ina Garten

During a year in which cooks everywhere have had to prepare more meals at home, Ina Garten has been dishing out her expertise every step of the way. She posted daily recipes on her Instagram, from practical meals using pantry staples to a giant cosmopolitan cocktail (made with 2 cups of vodka!) that hilariously tapped into the nationwide mood. “It gave me a focus when we didn’t have one and connected me with people who were really struggling,” she says of her posts. “I think people liked that I kept it upbeat, even though we were all anxious.” In her latest cookbook, <em>Modern Comfort Food</em>, on shelves Oct. 6, Garten continues to put fans at ease with classic dishes given a new twist. “I think what makes comfort food is a remembered flavor, and then I update it by adding more intense flavors,” she says. “During times of stress, there’s just something about a hamburger and a Coke that makes us feel better.”

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Throwback: Chocolate Shell

The retro ice-cream treat—a sauce that magically hardens into a crunchy chocolate dome—found its way back into our hearts this summer. The secret ingredient? Coconut oil. Microwave 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, 2 tablespoons coconut oil and a pinch of salt in a microwavable bowl on high until melted, about 1 minute, stirring every 15 seconds. Spoon over ice cream and let harden, about 30 seconds.

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Social Media: TikTok Chefs

Home cooks turned food stars like Ana M. Regalado (@saltycocina, right), Tabitha Brown (@iamtabithabrown) and Sonny Hurrell (@thatdudecancook) turned the platform into the place for clever recipes, hacks and trendsetting moments.

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Pantry Shortcuts: DiGiorno Crispy Pan Pizza

The crust on this pizza bakes up so buttery, golden and crispy, it’s hard to believe it comes out of a freezer. Plus, it’s big and satisfying enough to feed a hungry family. Available in four cheese or pepperoni. $7; walmart.com

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Pantry Shortcuts: Siete Taco Seasoning Packet

A mix of chile powder, ground dates, garlic powder, nutritional yeast, jalapeño powder and cumin gives this seasoning a flavorful kick. Available in mild or spicy, it’s excellent for making tacos or as a quick dry rub for meat and veggies. $3 per packet; at grocery stores or sietefoods.com

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Pantry Shortcuts: Kitchens of Africa Yassa Singature Sauce

Simmer chicken, tofu or seafood in this generations-old Senegalese family recipe. The sweet caramelized-onion sauce—made with smoky paprika, garlic and spices in a Dijon mustard sauce—features zesty notes of ginger and lemon. $13; kitchensofafrica.com

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Pantry Shortcuts: Ramen Hero Kits

Yes, you can make homemade ramen—and have it taste just as good as it does in a restaurant. These kits arrive frozen and have everything you need: noodles, broth, meat, vegetables and nori. Just heat and serve whenever you have a craving. $18 per pack; ramenhero.com

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Pantry Shortcuts: Omsom Sauce Started

The flavors of Vietnam, The Philippines and Thailand are in the palm of your hand. Make restaurant-quality Vietnamese lemongrass BBQ, Filipino sisig or Thai larb in minutes. 

Buy it! $12 for 3; Omsom.com

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Pantry Shortcuts: Shan Tandoori Masala

Packed with flavor, this rich, delicious blend of spices including paprika, red chile, cumin, garlic and cardamom. All you need to add is chicken, yogurt, and lemon juice. $1.50; at grocery stores or shanfoodshop.com

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Fast Food: Spicy Chicken McNuggets

McDonald’s is giving its classic nugget a fiery makeover. The chicken bites—breaded in a tempura coating made with cayenne and chile peppers and served with their Mighty Hot Sauce—mark the first time the chain has offered a new McNuggets flavor in the U.S. since they debuted on menus in 1983.

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Podcast: Home Cooking

“We want to help you figure out what to cook and keep you company during the quarantine!” say Salt Fat Acid Heat’s Samin Nosrat and musician-podcaster Hrishikesh Hirway. On the podcast, the hosts— with celeb guests like Queer Eye’s Antoni Porowski and cellist Yo-Yo Ma—share stories and tackle listeners’ questions and anxieties with their unique blend of humor, warmth and culinary knowledge.

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Mobile App: EatOkra

Anthony and Janique Edwards created this free, easy-to-use app in 2016 to connect diners to Black-owned restaurants in their area. Their database has grown to nearly 3,700 eateries, bakeries and bars across the country after demand and downloads surged over the summer. eatokra.com

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Service: Knife Aid

First seen on ABC’s Shark Tank, the mail-in sharpening service gives dull blades a new edge. Send your blunt knives in the company’s safe, sturdy, postage-paid envelope, and they’ll be returned razor-sharp in a week. $11 per knife and up, knifeaid.com

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Viral Recipe: Dalgona Coffee

Whipped coffee exploded across social media in March as people looked for creative ways to get their caffeine fix while cafes were temporarily closed. Fans posted and raved about the fluffy, photo-friendly latte and its smooth flavor, creamy texture and simple brewing method—it’s only three ingredients and doesn’t require a machine. To make, whip up equal parts instant coffee powder, sugar and hot water until very frothy, and then spoon the mixture over milk. Posting the drink on social is not required but highly recommended.

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Self-Filmed Cooking Shows: Amy Schumer

On Food Network’s Amy Schumer Learns to Cook, her husband, chef Chris Fischer, takes the reins; she provides the laughs; and their son’s nanny Jane works the camera.

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Self-Filmed Cooking Shows: Joanna Gaines

Shot by her oldest kids, Duke, 15, and Ella, 13, the Fixer Upper star’s YouTube demos for zucchini bread and chocolate chip cookies are a sweet look into their life in Waco, Texas.

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Self-Filmed Cooking Shows: Selena Gomez

For the pop star’s HBO Max series Selena + Chef, pros like Antonia Lofaso and Roy Choi virtually school her—from their respective kitchens—on their signature dishes.

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New Celeb Rosés: Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie

Despite their split, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie continue to make award-winning wines. Their latest is Fleur de Miraval: a (pricey!) rosé champagne. “I’m very proud of it,” said Pitt. $390

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New Celeb Rosés: Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz’s organic line Avaline, cofounded with Katherine Power, includes what she calls the “perfect rosé.” Says the star: “I can drink it every day—it tastes so delicious.” $20; wine.com

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New Celeb Rosés: Mary J. Blige

Sun Goddess Pinto Grigio Ramato, the pink Italian vino from Mary J. Blige, is dry, full-bodied and reasonably priced. “I really wanted my fans to be able to afford this,” she said. $20; wine.com

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New Celebrity Rosés: Post Malone

Rapper Post Malone sold more than 50,000 bottles of his Maison No. 9 in its first weekend on sale. The rosé, named after his favorite Nine of Swords tarot card, is light and fruity. $22; Wine.com

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New Celebrity Rosés: Kylie Minogue

The pop star’s self-titled Vin de France rosé was a huge hit after its initial launch in the U.K. in May. American fans will be able to enjoy a glass in early 2021. $11

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New Celebrity Rosés: Danica Patrick

Since retiring from racing cars, Danica Patrick has made a name for herself in the wine industry. After the success of her Napa Valley line, Patrick traveled to France for her latest self-named rosé. $28; danicarosewine.com

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Quarantine Essential: Sourdough Starter

Since they couldn’t break bread with friends during a pandemic, enthusiastic home bakers everywhere turned to making their own. Bryan Ford’s blog Artisan Bryan and his New World Sourdough cookbook became the go-to guides. The perfect recipe? “Flour, warm water and patience,” he says.

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Food Artist: Red Rose Cake

Everything’s edible! Turkish baker Tuba Geçkil (@redrosecake_tubageckil) creates such hyperrealistic confections, like this Crocs cake (right), that you aren’t quite sure you’re looking at a dessert—until she cuts a slice.

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Grocery Delivery: Walmart+

Create an online list from more than 160,000 fresh and packaged foods, tech items and toys, and a personal shopper will deliver your order, contact-free, the same day. $98 a year for unlimited delivery; walmart.com

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Digital Series: ‘Hot Ones’

On the First We Feast show, stars like Idris Elba and Charlize Theron struggle to answer host Sean Evans’s questions while eating progressively spicier wings—and 9 million YouTube subscribers eat it up. You can even experience the wrath of the last dab at home with the new Hot Ones: the Game.

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Asha Gomez: Pumpkin, Rainbow Chard & Cannellini Bean Soup

Gomez’s culinary career connects her past (growing up in a small village in the Kerala region of India) to her present (cooking as an award-winning chef in Atlanta). “I’ve spent more of my life as an American than not. Yet some folks, at their first glance of me in an apron, make a hasty judgment that my kitchen must smell of curry all the time. Well, a couple of nights a week they may be right, but on the whole, my kitchen smells of whatever inspires me.” Right now Gomez is energized by “the magic of soup season.” This one-pot meal from I Cook in Color, her new cookbook, “will emanate warmth on a cool fall night.”

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Pop Culture Cookbooks: Friends

From Joey’s meatball sub to the gang’s classic Friendsgiving feast—and, yes, even Rachel’s English Meat Trifle—this book includes dozens of dishes that were featured in the show. $30; amazon.com

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Pop Culture Cookbooks: Golden Girls

Picture it: Gathering around the kitchen table for Sophia’s Clams Fra Diavolo, Blanche’s southern honey-bourbon glazed carrots and a big piece of the girls’ favorite cheesecake! $26; Amazon.com

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Pop Culture Cookbooks: Marvel

Superfoods meet superheroes in the new cookbook. It’s filled with comic-inspired dishes like Deadpool’s Chimichangas and Wolverine’s Bayou Boil. $30; Amazon.com

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Restaurant Aid: Guy Fieri & Edward Lee

When most U.S. restaurants were forced to close because of the pandemic, leaving thousands out of work, the celebrity chefs quickly stepped up to lend a hand. Fieri’s Restaurant Employee Relief Fund (rerf.us) offers grants to those affected. Lee’s Lee Initiative (leeinitiative.org) provides free food and supplies to struggling restaurant workers across the country.

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Ayesha Curry

While many people slowed down during quarantine, this food star picked up speed. With the launch of her new lifestyle magazine Sweet July (published by Meredith, People’s parent company) and cookbook The Full Plate, Curry, 31, is on a mission to make life easier for working parents like her. “I’ve spent years figuring out ways to develop great flavor in as little time and effort as possible,” she says.

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Superior Snacks: Popcorn Indiana Movie Theater Butter Popcorn

Bring the taste of movie theater popcorn home! The extra-buttery, fluffy kernels are a must for movie night and will satisfy your salty craving. $2.70 and up; at supermarkets or Walmart.com

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Superior Snacks: Rip Van Wafels

Crispy, caramel-filled stroopwafel sandwiches come in five flavors —Dutch Caramel & Vanilla, Snickerdoodle, Honey & Oats, Chocolate Brownie, and Cookies & Cream — and hit the spot every time. $18 for 12; at supermarkets or Ripvan.com

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Superior Snacks: See’s Sour Gummies

All gummies are not created equal! These chewy seasonal candies (Halloween bats!) come are dusted in sugar but still pack a potent, puckery punch. $7.75; Sees.com

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Superior Snacks: Poms Poms Pomegranate Arils

Pomegranate season runs only from October to January, so enjoy these fresh, juicy gems while you can! The to-go cups are perfect for lunch boxes, picnics and on-the-go snacking. $3.50 and up; at supermarkets or pomwonderful.com

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Superior Snacks: Lay’s Nashville Hot Chicken Potato Chips

Inspired by the southern specialty, these crunchy potato chips have a surprising fiery kick. $2.50 and up; at supermarkets or Walmart.com

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Multi-Use Cookware: Always Pan (10″)

It’s seven pans in one! The do-everything sauté-steamer-braise-fry pan has a ceramic nonstick coating and two-sided spouts for straining and pouring. Plus, it comes with a flat wooden spatula—and has a handy and spoon rest built right into the handle—so it really is an all-in-one unit. $145, Fromourplace.com

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Multi-Use Cookware: Joyce Chen Silver Carbon Steel Wok (14″)

Your kitchen needs a wok. Ideal for everything from steaming to deep-frying, this flat-bottomed, do-it-all heats quickly and is virtually nonstick. $30, Homedepot.com

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Multi-Use Cookware: Staub Grill Pan & Cocotte (13″)

Surprise! Flip the lid on this enameled cast-iron pot to see a hidden grill pan that can be placed right on the stove.  $199 and up, Food52.com

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Multi-Use Cookware: Hexclad Hybrid Skillet (10″)

Get the benefits of both stainless steel and nonstick in one ultra-durable pan. The laser-etched pattern is truly scratchproof. $110, Hexclad.com

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Giving Back: The Store

Brad Paisley and Kimberly Williams-Paisley sped up the opening of their new Nashville supermarket—which offers free groceries to families in need—at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March, making deliveries to elderly residents who were quarantined at home. The country superstar and the actress have since pledged to donate more than 1 million meals to families across the U.S. through their food brand Tiller & Hatch.

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Community Building: Bakers Against Racism

When George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis in May, chefs Paola Velez, Willa Pelini and Rob Rubba were moved to action. They kicked off a bake sale in Washington, D.C., to support organizations fighting discrimination, and it soon turned into a global movement on Instagram (@bakersagainstracism), with 2,500 bakers raising $1.9 million through bake sales in their own communities. “I don’t know policy, I am not a lawyer who can get people out of prison, but I can make cookies,” Pelini told TheNew York Times. “And maybe if I sell someone cookies, it can open a conversation about why.”

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