James Beard Awards Ceremony Reiterates Commitment To New Mission: Inclusion, Diversity, Equity

Posted: Sep 30, 2020

The James Beard Awards ceremony, considered to be the Oscars of the culinary world, was streamed live via Twitter from Chicago on Friday night with little pomp and circumstance, but a heaping helping of a new day.

The annual gala, usually held each May in Chicago at the Lyric Opera House, was canceled earlier this year due to the pandemic. It was announced shortly thereafter that winners in categories such as best restaurant, best chef in regional categories and outstanding chef would not be presented this year. Instead, the James Beard Foundation (JBF), which each year honors outstanding achievement in the culinary world, revamped its mission and purpose, and announced it would devote the awards evening to spotlighting the previously announced recipients for Leadership, Lifetime Achievement, Design, and America’s Classics honors.

It was the first time in the history of the awards that the full list of winners in all categories was not announced, a practice that will carry over into the 2021 season as well, due to the devastating impact on the restaurant and culinary industries this past year and the changes under way at the JBF.

In a statement, the JBF said the changes in the purpose of the awards and ceremony were made to allow the organization to conduct “a comprehensive internal and external review of the Awards systems to address any systemic bias and align the Awards with the Foundation’s mission of promoting sustainability, equity, and diversity in the restaurant industry.”

“It is our collective duty to do all we can to get restaurants through this,” JBF CEO Clare Reichenbach said in her opening remarks Friday night, during which she noted that next year’s event, planned to be in-person, will seek to “honor people in our community who have risen to the challenge of this moment.”

By: Miriam Di Nunzio
Source: chicago.suntimes.com
September 27, 2020

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