James Beard Foundation Will Not Announce Winners This Year

The 2020 awards ceremony will celebrate previously announced honorees and nominees, but will not name winners in its prestigious chef and restaurant categories.

One of the most prestigious awards in the restaurant industry will not name winners for the first time in its 30 year history.

In a Thursday morning statement, the James Beard Foundation said that it will still celebrate previously announced nominees and honorees, but will not name winners in its highly anticipated chef and restaurant categories. The decision coincides with the launch of a "year-long initiative to audit and overhaul awards processes" to investigate and remove any systemic biases found.

"The choice 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," reads the statement. "The Awards’ usual positive impact on restaurants and chefs’ businesses will likely not be fully realized due to the current state of the industry, with many restaurants closed permanently or temporarily or operating at minimal capacity. These factors helped to inform the decision not to assign winners during a time of such turmoil."

The September 25 ceremony will still go on as planned, celebrating honorees and nominees that have already been announced, in categories such as America’s Classics, Lifetime Achievement, Humanitarian of the Year, Design Icon, and Leadership Awards.

"We did not come to this decision lightly,” said James Beard Foundation CEO Clare Reichenbach. “The uncertainty of this time for our industry is already a hard reality, and considering anyone to have won or lost within the current tumultuous hospitality ecosystem does not in fact feel like the right thing to do. In short, an honor which we know is held in high regard, at the moment, feels minor when compared to the dire situation we are in."

According to the statement, the foundation is reassessing the very notion of awards and the definition of "excellence," and there will be no awards ceremony in 2021, either. Instead, the 2021 ceremony will be "a celebration of the independent restaurant community who have shown leadership during this crisis and honoring those who have made a significant impact on the industry and in their communities."

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles