See the world's best food photographs of 2022

By Forrest Brown, CNN

    (CNN) -- The image is simply mesmerizing and deceptively simple: a street vendor cooking kekabs. But linger on it for a minute. There's so much more.

While visually arresting, the image stimulates all the senses the longer you look. You can smell the smoke. You can almost feel the heat of the grill. The sight of the cooking meat makes your mouth water. You can almost hear the sizzle.

Indian photographer Debdatta Chakraborty captured the photo that contest organizers describe as an "intimate image full of warmth and humanity."

Called "Kebabiyana," it has won the overall prize of Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year 2022, which celebrates the fine art of food photography and film. The winners were announced in a ceremony that was live streamed on YouTube on Tuesday, April 26.

Caroline Kenyon, director and founder of the awards, said on YouTube that it's the 11th year of the contest.

More about that Pink Lady winner

"Kebabiyana" was taken on Khayam Chowk, a street in Srinagar, which is the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir in far northern India.

A news release from Pink Lady describes the street as "ordinary" by day, but it "transforms into a buzzing food hub at night, as vendors fire up charcoal ovens and fill the air with the smoky aroma of grilled delights such as wazwan kebabs, the popular Kashmiri street food."

"It is always a source of excitement and wonder when one single image rises to the top in the awards," said Kenyon in the news release.

"In today's world, more than ever, we feel the need for comfort, for love," she said. "There is so much to reassure us here -- the beautifully captured billowing embrace of the smoke, the golden light, the subject's expression as he prepares the food for sharing. ... This image, gentle but powerful, nourishes our soul."

Why food photography matters

The contest is meant to show the profound influence of food, said Phil Turnbull in the release. He is CEO of APAL, owner of Pink Lady, the apple brand behind the photography awards.

"As Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year enters its second decade, never has the importance of photography and food been so great," said Turnbull,

"Huge global events -- war, famine, the end of lockdowns, the revival of the hospitality industry, the chance to celebrate with friends and family again -- all these are recorded in the awards, which show so vividly how food touches every aspect of our lives. The competition continues to be a truly global celebration of the art of food photography."

Pink Lady said thousands of entries were submitted from more than 60 countries. Renowned food photographer David Loftus chaired the judging panel.

There were 23 categories and 38 winning images (some of the categories had sub-categories).

An exhibition of the 2022 finalists will be shown at The Royal Photographic Society, one of the world's oldest photographic societies, in Bristol, England. It will run from November 20 to December 12, 2022. Entry will be free, the release said.

Can't make it to Bristol? You can view the online gallery of all the 2022 finalists here. See a selection of category winners in the photo gallery above.

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