The James Beard Foundation has announced that Jessica B. Harris, author, journalist, culinary expert, and historian, has been named the recipient of the 2020 James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award. Non-profit Zero Foodprint (ZFP) was name Humanitarian of the Year.
The Lifetime Achievement Award is given to a person in the industry whose body of work has “had a positive and long-lasting impact on the way we eat, cook, and think about food in America”.
Jessica B. Harris is an author, editor, and translator of eighteen books. Her twelve works on food document the food traditions of the African Diaspora and include Hot Stuff: A Cookbook in Praise of the Piquant; Iron Pots and Wooden Spoons: Africa’s Gifts to New World Cooking; Beyond Gumbo: Creole Fusion Food from the Atlantic Rim; and High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America. Her other works include My Soul Looks Back: A Memoir and the forthcoming Vintage Postcards from the African World.
In almost five decades as a journalist, Harris has written extensively about the cultures of Africa and its diaspora and within the hospitality industry, she has served as a consultant for national and international organizations.
“I am humbled, honored, and more than a little astonished to receive this singular award. I am mindful that while my name is on it, it is also meant for those African Americans in the hospitality world in the past who labored unheralded, un-thanked, and for too many centuries unpaid or underpaid. I hope that this extraordinary honor heralds the beginning of a new era when all Americans can sit down and fully participate at the nation’s table and none of us are strangers at the feast,” said Jessica B. Harris.
The Humanitarian of the Year Award went to Zero Foodprint (ZFP), a non-profit organization dedicated to building a carbon-neutral, renewable food system. Founded by Basque Culinary Award Winner 2019 Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz, ZFP provides support to a growing movement of farmers and ranchers who want to use their land to solve climate change, but need vital funding to implement new practices. ZFP looks to help farmers change their land from environment detractors to environment enablers.
“We’re so excited to see the James Beard Foundation shining a spotlight on food and climate, because farmers are amazing, and the restaurant world can do so much to heal the world. We share this honor with all of the Zero Foodprint member restaurants and the farmers we work with, and we hope that the award brings in even more people, as we build on our Restore California program to support carbon farming projects around the country. This is an amazing moment to connect diners, restaurants, and farmers around better food and climate solutions through our Earth Day campaign,” said Leibowitz, executive director of Zero Foodprint.
For the first time, the recipient of the James Beard Humanitarian Award of the Year will receive the Michael Phillips Humanitarian Fund of $20,000 cash. Both Jessica Harris and ZFP will receive their awards at the 30th anniversary James Beard Awards Gala in Chicago go on sale Wednesday, March 25, 2020.