The James Beard Foundation is retooling for its return in 2022 after it abruptly cancelled its awards in 2020. The official line for the cancellation was that the pandemic had shuttered the industry and awarding would be inappropriate, however, rumours persisted that the real reason was because of a lack of any black winners in their 23 categories, as reported by the New York Times.
Whatever the real reason, it seems the James Beard Foundation has, after a period of self-reflection, taken the necessary measures to be more representative of what the public want from their restaurants. The changes to the James Beard Foundation’s judging criteria reflect a broader change in the post-pandemic restaurant industry and society itself, which calls for more diversity and fairness of opportunity for BIPOC workers.
Meanwhile it has been announced that the 2021 awards will be hosted by former Kith/Kin chef Kwame Onwuachi. The event will be held in Chicago on Monday, September 27. The event will be live-streamed on Twitter (@beardfoundation). The awards will adopt a new theme called “Stories of Resilience and Leadership”.
Since leaving the restaurant Kith/Kin, citing the need to see more black people in restaurant ownership, The Notes On A Young Black Chef Author has been busy, joining Food & Wine as an executive producer, appearing as a judge on Top Chef, been active with the Independent Restaurant Coalition and worked as a producer on the film of his book.