James Beard Foundation cancels 2020 awards

The James Beard Foundation’s annual Chef and Restaurant Awards were initially scheduled to be announced at a gala event in Chicago. After postponing that event and announcing a virtual event, the JBF has effectively cancelled the 2020 awards. In a press release, the JBF said that the choice to withhold announcing winners this year “comes as restaurants continue to suffer the grave negative effects of COVID-19, and as substantial and sustained upheaval in the community has created an environment in which the Foundation believes the assignment of Awards will do little to further the industry in its current uphill battle.

The online event scheduled on September 25 will not reveal the winning chefs and restaurants; instead it will honor the winners in previously announced categories including the America’s Classics, Lifetime Achievement, Humanitarian of the Year, Design Icon, and Leadership Awards. At least one 2020 nominee, David Kinch, had already withdrawn his name from consideration for the awards. In an Instagram post, Kinch said that going on with the awards “simply does not feel right in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, and the devastation it has pressed upon our chosen métier and industry.”

The JBF took the additional step of announcing that there would be no 2021 restaurant and chef awards either. Since the awards are based on the previous year’s work, it is not feasible to have awards when the industry is in a state of upheaval. Instead, the Foundation will honor members of the independent restaurant community in a ceremony next May. In its press release, the JBF said it was also continuing to revamp the Awards’ policies and procedures. The objectives of this work “are to remove any systemic bias, increase the diversity of the pool of candidates, maintain relevance, and align the Awards more outwardly with the Foundation’s values of equity, equality, sustainability, and excellence for the restaurant industry.”

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  • Shelmar  on  August 21, 2020

    I feel sorry for all the chefs who are missing out on getting their award.

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