The James Beard Awards, often cited as the 'Oscars' of the food industry, will not take place this year, or next, it has been announced in "an unprecedented decision in the awards’ 30-year history."
The decision came in the wake of Covid-19, in response to a damaged industry and community, in which the Foundation believes the assignment of awards "will do little to further the industry in its current uphill battle."
On 25 September a ceremony will instead be broadcast live via Twitter from the host city of Chicago, as planned, but will only celebrate those previously announced winners in categories such as Lifetime Achievement, and Humanitarian of the Year, forgoing the restaurant and chef categories yet to be announced, including the outstanding chef or restaurant award winners.
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 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.”
The traditional awards ceremony will not take place next year either, allowing the awards committee and subcommittees time to address any systematic bias by overhauling the policies and procedures for the awards to increase the diversity of the pool of candidates.
In its place, the foundation will hold a ceremony in May, “shining a light on the members 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 when it was needed most.”
In 2022, expect the James Beard Awards to return in their "more traditional, but overhauled state.”