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The James Beard Foundation has announced that Patrick O’Connell, five-time James Beard Award winner, three Michelin star chef, author and owner of the Inn at Little Washington, Virginia, has won the 2019 James Beard Lifetime Achievement award. The Lifetime Achievement award is given person for a lifetime body of work that has had a positive and long-lasting impact on the way people eat, cook, and think about food in America.
Self-taught chef O’Connell, a native of Washington DC, pioneered as far back as 40 years ago the farm-to-fork movement, when he forged relationships with local producers in Virginia. O’Connell considers himself to be a restaurateur with a goal to restore and heal people in part through the preparation and presentation of food. He has leveraged his career milestones to benefit national and global charity initiatives with organizations such as Share Our Strength and Population Services International.
“I’m humbled to be joining a group of incredibly distinguished icons who have received this award before me,” said O’Connell. “No chef could ever receive such an acknowledgement without the talents of a dedicated team supporting him or her. I’m immensely grateful to everyone who helped me on the long and colourful journey to this point—especially to our guests for their loyal patronage through the years. I’m living proof that you can hide out in a mountain village with a population of 133 and still be discovered and recognised by your peers. The power of good food should never be underestimated.”
Also announced was the 2019 James Beard Humanitarian Award which this year was won by Giving Kitchen. Giving Kitchen, provides emergency assistance to food service workers through financial support and a network of community resources.
Giving Kitchen grew out of a beyond-expectation response to the devastating, stage-four cancer diagnosis of chef Ryan Hidinger in December 2012. The restaurant community rallied around him and he received an outpouring of love and financial support to help with his expenses not covered by insurance. Giving Kitchen provides financial assistance to food service workers, based on financial need and a referral program to serve as a connection to social services for restaurant workers called Stability Network.
"This award is a tribute to our community and beyond, and it has everything to do with the hard work of our staff, donors and volunteers who have advocated for Giving Kitchen,” said co-founder and spokesperson Jen Hidinger-Kendrick. “This community changed my husband's life and, quite honestly, it saved mine."