NEW YORK — The James Beard Foundation announced last week it would not present awards to the country’s best chefs and restaurants this year or next, the first time in the awards’ 30-year history this has happened. A statement from the Foundation said the awards “will do little to further the industry in its current uphill battle” amid the pandemic.
“We did not come to this decision lightly,” James Beard Foundation CEO Clare Reichenbach said in a statement. “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 eco─system does not in fact feel like the right thing to do. In short, an honour which we know is held in high regard, at the moment, feels minor when compared to the dire situation we are in.”
The organization will not present its traditional awards in 2021, since they would recognize work from the prior year. “Instead, the 2021 ceremony will be a celebration of the independent-restaurant community who have shown leadership during this crisis and honouring those who have made a significant impact on the industry and in their communities,” the statement said.
That event will be held in Chicago and broadcast nationwide next May.
Winners of several awards categories, including Lifetime Achievement, Humanitarian of the Year, America’s Classics, had already been announced prior to COVID-19 and will be honored during a virtual ceremony on Sept. 25.