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The James Beard Foundation Is Giving Out More Than $500,000 in Scholarships This Year

The James Beard Foundation Is Giving Out More Than $500,000 in Scholarships This Year

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The James Beard Foundation will begin accepting applications for culinary grants and scholarships starting April 1

Do you know of any aspiring food professionals who would be deserving of such a scholarship?

The James Beard Foundation is known not just for its annual awards honoring current culinary greats, but also for the encouragement of up-and-coming food professionals. This year, the James Beard Foundation will be awarding more than $500,000 in scholarships and grants to culinary students, the largest amount in the foundation’s history. The foundation will begin accepting applications starting on April 1.

“For more than two decades now, our Foundation has nurtured and educated the next generation of great chefs, restaurateurs, sommeliers, and beverage experts through our prestigious scholarship program,” said Diane Harris Brown, director of educational and community programming for the James Beard Foundation. “This year the foundation is expanding its reach with a global opportunity, offering international scholarships in France and Italy.”

In 2015, new scholarship opportunities include the Charlie Trotter Memorial Scholarship, created this year in chef Trotter’s memory after his death in 2013. Up to four scholarships, for $15,000 each, will be awarded to students who plan on attending culinary school. A new international scholarship for would-be culinary professionals in other countries is the $20,000 Alain Ducasse Education Scholarship for students attending one of chef Ducasse’s culinary educations programs.

James Beard Foundation Announces Lifetime Achievement And Humanitarian Of The Year Awards

The James Beard Foundation announced today that Patrick O’Connell, a five-time James Beard Award winner, 3-star Michelin chef, author, and owner of The Inn at Little Washington in Washington, VA, has been named the recipient of the 2019 James Beard Lifetime Achievement award and Giving Kitchen, the non-profit organization providing stability for some of the most hard-working and vulnerable members of the foodservice community, has been named the recipient of the 2019 James Beard Humanitarian of the Year award. The Lifetime Achievement award is bestowed upon a person in the industry whose lifetime body of work has had a positive and long-lasting impact on the way we eat, cook, and think about food in America. The Humanitarian of the Year award is given to an individual or organization whose work in the realm of food has improved the lives of others and benefited society at large. Patrick O’Connell and Giving Kitchen will be honored at this year’s James Beard Awards on Monday, May 6, 2019, at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Chef Patrick O’Connell

Patrick O’Connell, a native of Washington, D.C., is a self-taught chef who pioneered the movement to offer refined, regional American cuisine in the Virginia countryside. His alliance with local farmers and artisanal producers was an adaptation born of necessity more than 40 years ago when nothing but milk was delivered to the tiny town of “Little” Washington, VA (pop. 133). Long before the farm-to-table movement had a name, he began cultivating fruitful relationships with his neighbors — many of whom have a strong connection to the land.

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 acknowledgment without the talents of a dedicated team supporting him or her. I’m immensely grateful to everyone who helped me on the long and colorful 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 recognized by your peers. The power of good food should never be underestimated.”

2019 Humanitarian of the Year award recipient, 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. Ryan was well-known in the Atlanta restaurant community for his work at Bacchanalia, Floataway Café, and Muss & Turner’s. he and his wife, Jen, were beloved for their supper club Prelude to Staplehouse, a precursor to opening their dream restaurant. In response to Hidinger’s diagnosis, 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 defined set of criteria, through Crisis Grants. They have also created a referral program to serve as a connection to social services for restaurant workers called Stability Network. To date, Giving Kitchen Crisis Grants have supported over 1,500 food service workers in need of emergency assistance.

“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.”

“This award is for all the people who have supported Giving Kitchen since the beginning. With their help we’ve served over 2,500 food service workers in crisis, including providing over $2.4 million in financial assistance through our Crisis Grants program and over 1,000 referrals to community resources through our Stability Network program,” said executive director Bryan Schroeder. “We really feel like we are part of the movement that humanizes and brings value and respect to one of the most important job sectors in our country.”

Tickets for this year’s Awards gala in Chicago go on sale March 27, 2019, and the Awards will be broadcast live via the James Beard Foundation’s Twitter feed. On April 6, 2019, the James Beard Media Awards, an exclusive event honoring the nation’s top cookbook authors, culinary broadcast producers and hosts, and food journalists, will take place at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers in New York City.

About the 2019 James Beard Awards
The 2019 James Beard Awards celebrations begin in New York City on Friday, April 26, 2019, with the James Beard Media Awards. Presented in association with Visit PHILADELPHIA® with support from William Grant & Sons, the exclusive event honors the nation’s top cookbook authors, culinary broadcast producers and hosts, and food journalists and will take place at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers.

This year’s theme, “Good Food For GoodTM” is synonymous with the James Beard Foundation’s mission. It is the simple summation of what the organization stands for, from unique and delicious dining experiences at the James Beard House and around the country, to scholarships, mentorships, and a variety of industry programs that educate and empower leaders in the food community. The Foundation has built a platform for chefs and asserted the power of gastronomy to drive behavior, culture, and policy change around food. With this theme, the annual Awards aim to bring attention not only to its deserving winners but to the Foundation’s overall mission as well.

The events then move to Chicago, beginning with the Leadership Awards dinner on Sunday, May 5, 2019, at which honorees will be recognized for their work in creating a more healthful, sustainable, and just food world. The James Beard Awards Gala will take place on Monday, May 6, 2019, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. During the event, which is open to the public, awards for the Restaurant and Chef and Restaurant Design categories will be handed out, along with special achievement awards Humanitarian of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, Design Icon, and America’s Classics. A gala reception will immediately follow, featuring chefs and beverage professionals from across the country, including past JBF Award winners and many who are involved in the Foundation’s Impact Programs, from Smart Catch Seafood to Women’s Leadership programs and the James Beard Chefs Bootcamp for Policy and Change. The VIP Dinner chefs, those who cook a multi-course dinner and create an experience in the balcony boxes during the Awards show, will be chefs from the esteemed Union Square Hospitality Group.

The 2019 James Beard Awards are proudly hosted by Choose Chicago and the Illinois Restaurant Association and presented in association with Chicago O’Hare and Midway International Airports and Magellan Corporation as well as the following partners: Premier Sponsors: All-Clad Metalcrafters, American Airlines, HMSHost, Lavazza, S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water Supporting Sponsors: Hyatt, National Restaurant Association™, Robert Mondavi Winery, Skuna Bay Salmon, TABASCO® Sauce, Valrhona, White Claw® Hard Seltzer, Windstar Cruises Gala Reception Sponsors: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Ecolab, Front of the House®, Kendall College, with additional support from Chefwear, Loacker and VerTerra Dinnerware.

Established in 1990, the James Beard Awards recognize culinary professionals for excellence and achievement in their fields and further the Foundation’s mission to celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders making America’s food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone. Each award category has an individual committee made up of industry professionals who volunteer their time to oversee the policies, procedures, and selection of judges for their respective Awards programs. All James Beard Award winners receive a certificate and a medallion engraved with the James Beard Foundation Awards insignia.

The Woman Behind the James Beard Foundation’s Sustainable Future

In January 2018, the James Beard Foundation welcomed Clare Reichenbach as its new chief executive officer. With a background at companies like AMC and the BBC, Reichenbach was no stranger to mission-based organizations, though this was her first foray into the food world.

Among her goals at the helm of the organization is engaging the growing numbers of food-conscious consumers in the U.S. through programming, events, and outreach. At the same time, she’s working to support chefs and chef activists who are striving to make a difference in the food world through harnessing their influence and platform.

Reinchenbach looks back over her first year and ahead to the years to come.

What drew you to the James Beard Foundation and the restaurant industry?

Food plays a vital role in so many of society’s issues—environmental health, human health, economic health—and being in a position to help drive positive change through food was, and continues to be, hugely compelling to me.

My business background is in strategy and transformation, and I’ve helped many organizations build and deliver strategic growth. It’s deeply gratifying to be able to apply the strategy discipline to an industry and organization I’m passionate about.

Sustainability has become a big focus for JBF, as well as the industry at large. How are you bringing this value to action?

Sustainability is a key priority, and our programmatic focus right now is the reduction of food waste, and sustainable seafood. To help combat the startling—and growing—trend in food waste, we’ve introduced programs such as Creating a Full-Use Kitchen, an online course designed to introduce food-waste reduction methods into the culinary school classroom.

Our cookbook, Waste Not, is designed to help the home cook minimize waste, and we have an initiative called Waste Not Wednesdays, designed to raise awareness.

Our Sustainable Seafood Partnership leverages the expertise of local seafood purveyors and chefs across the country to help promote sustainable seafood. We now have more than 600 restaurants within our Smart Catch program.

Similarly, the foundation has double-downed on its programming for women in foodservice. Tell us about those initiatives.

We currently offer a suite of programs designed to help women in the culinary community achieve their goals at every stage of their career, from educational scholarships to a culinary leadership program focused on matching early- and mid-career women to new professional mentors.

Two years ago we launched our Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership program, which includes a week-long mini-MBA program at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. This year we’re prioritizing the roll-out of our Owning It initiative, which is a condensed, practical program designed to help women own and grow their businesses.

Our ambition is to enable more women to be in leadership positions within the profession, which we believe will result in a more inclusive culture for all. Over the next year we’ll be working to expand these and other programs, with a distinct focus on women of color. Additionally, we’ll be rolling out a suite of online tools focused on business planning, mentorship, visioning next stage growth, and financing the expansion of women-owned businesses.

What have you already accomplished at the helm of the James Beard Foundation, and what do you hope to achieve going forward?

The Beard Foundation is best known for the annual James Beard Awards and for the wonderful dining experiences we offer. It is less well known for all the critically important, mission-based initiatives and impact programming we deliver. A priority of mine from the outset was to interweave the pleasure-and-purpose elements of our work, everything we do at the intersection of the two—as embodied in Good Food for Good. This new strategic positioning brings our mission, values and impact agenda center stage, without losing our celebration of deliciousness.

Our Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change is an incredible program for supporting chef advocates. This year we will reach a policy and advocacy milestone of training more than 300 chefs.

What has most surprised you about the restaurant industry?

The unique influence that chefs have in society and their potential to be powerful change agents for good. The Foundation has a responsibility to foster and support chef advocates.

What does the future hold for the James Beard Foundation?

Our ambition is to be the beating heart of the industry, where we’re an invaluable resource and source of leadership for the culinary profession. We need to support the community in light of many of the real challenges it’s facing and harness the opportunities for change. And at the same time, we must continue educating the consumer around what these issues are. Only then will we start to see true, systemic change and realize a more sustainable and equitable food world for all.

James Beard Awards, Welcome Back … What’s New in Chicago Good Food

The 2016 James Beard Foundation (JBF) Awards ceremony next Monday (May 2) at Chicago’s Lyric Opera House is a welcome return engagement. Almost exactly one year ago, the 25 th annual awards ceremony was held in Chicago, marking the first time “the Oscars” of the nation’s culinary world had ever been held outside of New York City.

The logo for the 25th annual James Beard Awards ceremony, held last May at Chicago’s Lyric Opera House. Photo: Bob Benenson/FamilyFarmed

We at FamilyFarmed were so excited about this recognition that we published the article, “Welcome to Chicago, James Beard Foundation: 10 Delicious Facts About the Windy City.” The piece aimed to capture the multi-dimensional impact that the Good Food movement has had in our region.

We had the pleasure of covering the awards ceremony and produced a subsequent article that focused on the many awardees who represented the culinary community’s awareness, engagement and activism in Good Food principles such as local, sustainable, humane and fair.

From left, Rick Bayless of the Frontera group, Paul Fehribach of Big Jones, Abra Berens of Stock Cafe at Local Foods, Bruce Sherman of North Pond, and Kris Moon of the James Beard Foundation, who moderated the chef-activist panel at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Conference March 25. Photo: Bob Benenson/FamilyFarmed

This, in turn, helped us foster a closer relationship with the James Beard Foundation: Kris Moon, the organization’s vice president, contributed an article to our website on how the Foundation is helping encourage chef activism, and moderated a panel at our Good Food Trade Show & Industry Conference in Chicago on March 25 that included leading local chef-advocates such as Rick Bayless, Paul Fehribach, Bruce Sherman and Abra Berens.

So with the JBF Awards coming back to town, the best second helping we could think of is this rundown of the biggest Good Food developments in Chicagoland over the past year.

• RECOGNIZING CHICAGO — THIS YEAR’S JBF NOMINEES: Here is the easiest prediction for Monday’s JBF Awards. Someone from Chicago will win the medallion for Best Chef in the Great Lakes region.

That is because all of the nominees — Abraham Conlon of Fat Rice, Curtis Duffy of Grace, Erling Wu-Bower of Nico Osteria (part of the One Off Hospitality group co-founded by Chef Paul Kahan), Andrew Zimmerman of Sepia and Lee Wolen of Boka — are Chicago chefs. Sepia also is a nominee for Outstanding Wine Program.

Boka is the flagship of a big and growing restaurant group that is receiving a lot of attention from JBF judges this year. Owners Kevin Boehn and Rob Katz are finalists for Restaurateur of the Year (“Boka” comes from the first letters of their last names), and Meg Galus of Boka is up for Outstanding Pastry Chef. JBF chefs will get to see what the Boka’s big deal is about, as a special lunch is being held in their honor at Swift and Sons, a steakhouse in the West Loop neighborhood that is one of the group’s latest offerings.

The genius of Chef Grant Achatz also is being acknowledged, as his Alinea is up for Outstanding Restaurant, and Jenner Tomaska of his Next restaurant is a nominee for Rising Chef of the Year.

Frontera Grill, on Clark Street in Chicago’s River North section, opened in 1987 and is the flagship of chef Rick Bayless’ regional Mexico food enterprises.

And no James Beard Awards ceremony in Chicago would feel right without a nomination for Chef Rick Bayless — a multiple James Beard Award winner and local Good Food pioneer — and the regional Mexican cuisine at his Frontera Group of restaurants. Topolobampo, which adjoins the original Frontera Grill in the River North community, is up for outstanding service, and has a Chicago competitor in North Pond, whose chef Bruce Sherman won the 2012 Great Lakes Chef of the Year Award.

Some of these top chefs have been growing their restaurant empires. Achatz and his business partner Nick Kokonas recently opened Roister, the most casual spot in their restaurant group. Bayless and Frontera group are opening side by side spots on the West Loop’s Restaurant Row: Leña Brava, a seafood-forward restaurant with a serious mezcal program, and Cruz Blanca, a brewpub featuring a Oaxacan-style taqueria.

Kahan and One Off are expanding West Loop’s Avec, one of their flagship restaurants building out a new spot, name to be announced, in the Wicker Park neighborhood that already is home to their Big Star taco house and The Violet Hour mixology bar and soon opening Publican Tavern at O’Hare International Airport, the latest spinoff of The Publican, the group’s West Loop restaurant that features locally and sustainably produced food. (Kahan received the 2013 James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef in America, and Donnie Madia, a partner in One Off Hospitality, was honored as Restaurateur of the Year at last year’s awards held in Chicago.)

Boka Group has also been adding to its roster of great restaurants, all in the booming Fulton Market area that long was a meatpacking and produce wholesale hub. Chef Chris Pandel opened Swift and Sons and Cold Storage in the building — a rehabbed former food cold storage warehouse — that now houses Google’s Chicago offices. Stephanie Izard (well-known for her Girl & The Goat) recently opened Duck Duck Goat, the most acclaimed Chinese restaurant east of Shanghai. And Momotaro — which won Chicago Magazine’s Best New Restaurant of 2015 — is led by chef Mark Hellyar, formerly of Washington D.C.’s Restaurant Nora, the first certified organic restaurant in America.

INDOOR GROWING…AND GROWING: Two of the biggest Good Food developments involved MightyVine’s tomatoes and Gotham Greens, produced in indoor growing facilities that have brought the Chicago area (with its short growing season) a big step closer to year-round availability of some of the most popular consumer staples. They join FarmedHere‘s indoor vertical farm, located just west of the city in Bedford Park, in making the Chicago area the epicenter of the nation’s large-scale year-round production.

MightyVine tomatoes are grown in a hothouse facility in Rochelle, Illinois, about 80 miles northwest of downtown Chicago. Using techniques that were developed and have succeeded in The Netherlands, MightyVine is growing tomatoes that are much closer to the taste and texture of outdoor-grown tomatoes than the traditional hothouse varieties. A number of Chicago’s top chefs are among MightyVine’s most avid customers. The demand prompted MightyVine to announce in March that it is doubling its capacity by building a second 7.5-acre hothouse.

Gotham Greens is producing several varieties of lettuce, other greens and herbs on the broad rooftop of a year-old ecologically friendly Method soap factory. The factory and farm are located in the Pullman neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, where a long period of industrial decline is being addressed by a number of recently opened or planned food businesses. Gotham Greens’ growing technology also is imported, only this time from New York City, where the company has three sprawling rooftop farms.

Farmer’s Fridge is a recent startup that has been gaining positive attention for its concept of selling fresh salads in vending machines. Photo: Bob Benenson/FamilyFarmed

• SPEAKING OF SALADS: Salad… from a vending machine? That’s a concept that Chicago-based Farmer’s Fridge is popularizing in our region. Its salads, crafted in the company’s kitchen in the West Loop neighborhood, are sold in recyclable plastic jars from custom-made vending machines, and taste remarkably fresh — not surprising, given that the machines are changed out every day, with any leftover product donated to nonprofit groups that provide food to those in need.

The company, just a bit more than two years old, had grown to 35 locations by February, with goals to increase to 100 sites by September and 140 by the end of this year. Its re-conceptualizing of vending machine food has gained national attention: NBC Nightly News carried a featured story on Farmer’s Fridge, featuring company founder Luke Saunders, last November.

And yes, some of the Farmer’s Fridge salad blends include MightyVine tomatoes and FarmedHere greens.

The wall at the entrance to the Local Foods store in Chicago includes the logo and a map of the Midwest states from which it sources its products. Photo: Bob Benenson/FamilyFarmed

• LOCAL FOODS BOOMING: We can’t seem to get far from those tomatoes, but the place to find them virtually all the time is the Local Foods retail store in the Bucktown area not far from downtown Chicago. The reason is that food entrepreneur Jim Murphy is the chairman of both Local Foods and MightyVine, as well as Handcut Foods, which does school foodservice and corporate catering with mostly local and sustainable foods.

The Local Foods store is one of the big new developments since the last James Beard Awards. The retail outlet grew out off the company’s food hub distribution business which aggregates products from small Midwestern farms and artisan producers and sells to 200 customers, most of them restaurants. The retail store features seasonal local produce — which makes it something of a year-round indoor farmers market — along with locally and sustainably produced meats from butcher Rob Levitt and his team at The Butcher & Larder (which moved into the space last June from its original store nearby) and Stock Café, a casual eatery whose chef Abra Berens gets nearly all of her ingredients from the store’s shelves.

• GOOD GRAIN GAINS GROUND: While gluten-free products have become a major sector in the food industry in recent years, there are those who have argued strongly that the problem is not gluten, but rather poor quality grain that has been stripped of most of its nutritional value. In the Chicago region, this cause unites producers such as Hazzard Free Farm and Spence Farm with bakers such as Publican Quality Bread and Baker Miller, both in Chicago, and Hewn in suburban Evanston.

Grain producers Don Lewis of New York’s Wild Hive Farm (left) and Illinois’ Harold Wilken participated in FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Festival March 26. Photo: Bob Benenson/FamilyFarmed

One sign that this Good Grain movement would continue to grow arose shortly after last year’s JBF awards. Harold Wilken, who owns Janie’s Farm in central Illinois, invited local farmers to his property to learn about his organic grain growing techniques, and dozens came to his expansive shed to hear how they could convert from conventional to sustainable production.

Wilken is now expanding his operation by developing a grain hub and milling operation that would turn locally and sustainably produced grain into flour for the Chicago market. This program is in partnership with Wild Hive Farm in upstate New York, one of the first grain hubs in the United States. FamilyFarmed is a strategic partner on this project.

• CRAFT BEER BOOM CONTINUES: One sector that will be happy with a greater availability of locally produced, high quality grain is the region’s booming craft beverage industry. While craft beer and spirits makers have been drawing customers because they are locally made, an increasing number of producers are also seeking more locally grown ingredients to go into their beverages.

It is going to take a lot of local ingredients to satisfy this growing interest among craft producers, because there suddenly are so many of them. According to the Brewers Association, the national trade organization for craft beer, the number of craft breweries in the state of Illinois nearly tripled over the course of just four years, from 54 in 2011 to 157 in 2015. The vast majority of those are in Chicago and its environs: Crain’s Chicago Business reported that as of last October Chicago had 146 breweries, second only to the 196 in Portland, Oregon, one of the original hubs of the nation’s craft beer craze.

The busy bar at Forbidden Root’s brewpub in Chicago. All the beers listed on the chalkboard at the city’s first botanical brewery are made in-house. Photo: Bob Benenson/FamilyFarmed

A handful of the local beer makers have production facilities qualify as factories. The 300,000 square foot brewery opened in 2014 by California-based Lagunitas — the nation’s 6 th largest craft brewer — is by far Illinois’ biggest, though local craft beer pioneers such as Revolution and Half Acre have undergone rapid expansion.

But most craft brewers are still quite small. One that is doing some very interesting things at the culinary/artisan Good Food level is Forbidden Root, which is utilizing roots and other botanicals in its recipes. Forbidden Root earlier this year opened a gastro-brewpub, retrofitted into what long ago was a movie theater, that is receiving positive reviews for its food as well as its beers.

• FOOD TO MARKET CHALLENGE: The Good Food sector has grown exponentially in the Chicago region over the past decade and more, but there are still obstacles to even bigger growth. Many of these involve supply chain issues: It remains difficult for many small to mid-sized producers to connect with buyers and to master the logistics of getting their products to market.

The Food to Market Challenge logo was projected at a Chicago event held Jan. 27 to launch the project. Photo: Bob Benenson/FamilyFarmed

That issue has prompted The Food to Market Challenge, a project of the Food:Land:Opportunity, a philanthropic effort to support local sustainable food funded by the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust. The competition will award $500,000 to the team — which must include at least one farmer from the Chicago foodshed — that is deemed to have developed the best solution to supply chain issues affecting the metropolitan Chicago food market.

Even Chicago’s McCormick Place, the largest convention center in America, is applying to the challenge in a bid to double the size of its current half-acre organic rooftop farm that it operates in partnership with the Chicago Botanic Garden and its Windy City Harvest program.

The registration deadline for participating teams expired on April 26, and proposal entries must be submitted by May 10. Five finalists will be selected by June and they will be invited to pitch to the selection committee at an Oct. 26 event at which a winner will be chosen and announced.

• LET’S DINE OUT… AT THE AIRPORT? Throughout most of the history of airline travel, delicious dining options have been few and far between, and until very recently, tasty and healthy and sustainable food choices were virtually non-existent. That began to change in recent years when Rick Bayless — already well known as a local Good Food pioneer — opened his fast-casual Tortas Frontera at O’Hare International Airport.

Paul Kahan (left) received FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Chef of the Year Award from organization President Jim Slama at the 2016 Good Food Festival. Photo: Bob Benenson/FamilyFarmed

The concept is now spreading, and one of those is the soon-to-open Publican Tavern, the latest offering of Chef Paul Kahan, another Chicago Good Food leader, and his partners in the One Off Hospitality Group. FamilyFarmed was pleased to present Kahan with its 2016 Good Food Chef of the Year award at its Good Food Festival on March 26, for his dedication to local and sustainable sourcing and for his work with Pilot Light — the nonprofit he co-founded with chef peers such as Matthias Merges and Jason Hammel — which works with Chicago Public Schools to integrate food education into the children’s curriculum.

• PROGRESS AND INNOVATION IN THE GOOD FOOD MARKET SECTOR: This is looking a bit ahead, but Whole Foods Market — the nation’s biggest supermarket chain focused on organic and natural foods — announced at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Conference that it has set September 28 as the official opening date for its new store in the largely African American Englewood neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. This much-anticipated store location is aimed at revitalizing a community that once was one of the city’s commercial centers, but has endured severe economic decline and attendant social problems in recent decades.

This is a major development for a retail chain that has been oriented to a higher-income clientele. More broadly, Whole Foods is ramping up its efforts to bring jobs and economic development to the South Side, which has long been underserved by the food industry.

The company will be building out a 140,000 square foot warehouse in the Pullman community, and the Englewood opening will be preceded by a store in the Hyde Park neighborhood that is scheduled to debut on June 22. Whole Foods also has announced that Evergreen Park, a suburb immediately adjacent to Chicago’s Southwest Side, will host the area’s first store in its new economy-minded �” chain, which is slated to open in 2018. Whole Foods Market also introduced a new program with Fortune Fish and Gourmet to give local food artisans low-cost distribution services to all the Whole Foods stores in the Midwest.

In addition, Kroger, the nation’s largest supermarket chain, bought Mariano’s, the Chicago-based chain that sells a combination of natural, organic, and conventional food. Fresh Thyme Farmers Market also continued its rapid growth in the region with a major infusion of financing from Meijer, the Michigan-based chain of megastores.

Enjoy Life Foods, which built a big consumer market for foods that are “free from” common allergens, was purchased by Mondelez International, a major consumer packaged goods manufacturer. Enjoy Life CEO Scott Mandell is now finishing development of a new 200,000 square foot production facility.

SPINS, the leading data company in the natural and organic food industry, moved its headquarters from suburban Schaumburg to Chicago. KeHe, a $5 billion natural and organic food distributor based in suburban Naperville, recently announced that it achieved B Corp Certification, making it the largest company in the world to certify its environmental and social progress. And Presence Marketing of suburban Barrington continued its national leadership as the largest independently owned natural foods broker.

• REDUCING FOOD WASTE: By varying estimates, somewhere between a third and two-fifths of all food produced in the United States goes to waste, at a time when there is still significant food want. This is an issue that is getting major national attention through efforts such at the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Save the Food campaign. And it is certainly getting significant attention in our area as well.

Zero Percent is one organization that is leading the way in this effort, addressing both food waste and food want by connecting restaurants and other businesses that have excess food with nonprofit groups that provide food assistance to those in need. Raj Karmani, founder and chief impact officer of Zero Percent, was a panelist in the opening symposium at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference in Chicago on March 24.

• FAMILYFARMED FLOURISHING: We can’t be expected to write an article about the good news about Good Food without mentioning the big positive developments within our own advocacy organization.

FamilyFarmed’s second cohort of nine promising entrepreneurs just graduated on April 25 from our Good Food Business Accelerator. The $23 million in debt and equity financing generated in recent years between participants in our Accelerator program and our Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference underscores both the impact of our organization’s efforts and the rising interest in Good Food businesses within the investment community.

The growing consumer demand for better food is getting ever-increasing attention from leading policymakers, including U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who in March became the first Cabinet member to speak at our Good Food Festival & Conference (and delighted us by using the phrase “Good Food movement” three times in his speech). FamilyFarmed’s Wholesale Success program has now trained more than 9,000 farmers in 40 states in best practices in production, handling, food safety and marketing, and we are now working on a follow-up program titled Direct Market Success, focusing on young farmer training.

And we’re now closer to thick of the action after moving our offices from the suburbs to the River North neighborhood of Chicago, next to the Merchandise Mart, home to the 1871 business incubator that hosts our Good Food Business Accelerator.

With all of this movement in the right direction, we hope you can see why Chicago’s status as a center for the Good Food movement makes it our kind of town. Yours too, James Beard Awards visitors.

Tom Vilsack quote meme produced by Jamie McCarthy of FamilyFarmed.


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Laker Coach May Resign Rudy Tomjanovich is on the verge of resigning as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, less than seven months after he was hired. Two people with insight into the situation said that Tomjanovich had decided to step down, primarily because of stress. D5

Awards Break From Foundation The James Beard Foundation announced that it had separated its awards program from the rest of the organization which is struggling to recover from a financial scandal. F4

Dean Is Close to Election As Democratic Leader Howard Dean emerged as the almost assured new leader of the Democratic National Committee, as one of his main rivals quit the race. A1

Bush Agenda Rests With Frist The fate of President Bush's domestic agenda rests, in many ways, with Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, who is expected to deliver on an extraordinarily difficult agenda, including the president's proposal to partly privatize Social Security. A14

Medicaid Changes Proposed The secretary of health and human services called for sweeping changes in Medicaid that would cut payments for prescription drugs and give states new power to reduce or reconfigure benefits for millions of low-income people. A12

Bush administration officials said the new Medicare drug benefit would generally pay for pills like Viagra when they were medically necessary. A13

No Filibuster Against Gonzales Senate Democrats agreed that they would not seek to block the confirmation of Alberto R. Gonzales as attorney general through a filibuster. A16

Sonogram's Anti-Abortion Role In the battle over abortion, opponents say they have discovered a powerful new tool, sonograms, and over the last 18 months, they have started major fund-raising campaigns to outfit Christian crisis pregnancy centers with ultrasound equipment. A1

No More Guaranteed Seats On Delta Air Lines Shuttle Delta Air Lines announced that it would no longer guarantee a seat on the hourly shuttle connecting New York to Boston and Washington, ending the comfort generations of East Coast travelers have endured since the 1960's. A1

Subway Line Restored Transit officials, announced that service on the A and C subway line is to resume today after a mysterious fire at the Chambers Street station in Lower Manhattan crippled service last month. A1

New York Debt Skyrockets New York's debt has ballooned from $14 billion in 1990 to $46 billion last year, or $2,424 for every man, woman and child in the state. B1

52 Small Schools to Open Mayor Bloomberg announced a plan to open 52 new small middle and high schools in September. B1

Dr. William H. Crosby Jr. A hematologist who invented one of the first devices to obtain biopsies of the bowel, he was 90. A19

Bankrupted by Medical Bills Hundreds of thousands of Americans file for personal bankruptcy each year because of medical bills -- even though they have health insurance, according to a study by Harvard University legal and medical researchers. C1

A Spinoff by Amex The American Express Company announced that it was spinning off its financial advisory business in an effort to focus on its card and travel services operations. C1

Editorials: Next steps in Iraq the costly right to know class-action lawsuits.

Questions Linger for Beard Foundation

ON Monday the year’s biggest gathering of chefs, food journalists, and other culinary professionals and amateurs will convene at one of the grander locales in New York, Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, for the James Beard Foundation Awards.

It will be quite a step up from the ballroom at the Marriott Marquis, the longtime venue for the food world’s most prestigious awards.

After cleaning up an embezzlement scandal that led to the imprisonment of the foundation’s former president, the current president, Susan Ungaro, said it was time for the organization to show some pride and have some fun.

“The foundation needed to take its rightful place as a place of excitement, and a place of intelligent planning,” Ms. Ungaro said, “after a few years of hard knocks.”

But the hard knocks continue more than two years after the former president, Leonard F. Pickell Jr., and later the entire board of directors, resigned. While it is being run more professionally and openly, the organization is in worse shape financially. And questions about its mission that were raised by the scandal have not all been resolved.

After being robbed by a president who worked for years without pay, and few fiscal controls, the foundation now has a salaried president (who earns $225,000) and chief financial officer, auditors and a bigger professional staff.

Ms. Ungaro says that the fiscal year that ended on March 31 will show a big improvement over last year’s bottom line. But the foundation will still be in the red, for the fifth year in a row.

In that time the foundation, which has been spending about $5 million each year, has run up almost $3 million in deficits, mostly since Mr. Pickell left, according to its financial statements.

The losses began with about $1 million in unsubstantiated expenses under Mr. Pickell. It then cost about $750,000 for lawyers and accountants to help clean up the mess. After the scandal broke, annual revenues from sponsorships, donations and events dropped by about $1 million.

Unable to meet its expenses, the foundation took out a $2 million mortgage in December on its home and only asset, the town house in Greenwich Village that belonged to Mr. Beard, the influential cookbook author and food expert. Because of the foundation’s weak credit, it is paying 11 percent annual interest on the loan and is scheduled to pay it off by the end of next year. (By comparison, interest on typical 30-year mortgages is now around 6 percent.) Walter Richter, chairman of the trustees’ audit and finance committee and a managing partner at the accounting firm of Deloitte & Touche, said that if the foundation couldn’t pay off the loan in that time it would try to refinance at a better rate, but selling the house or selling it and leasing it back remained outside possibilities.

Ms. Ungaro, who took office a year ago after serving as editor in chief of Family Circle magazine for 12 years, said the foundation is moving in the right direction. She said the deficit was trimmed in half in the past year, to $600,000, and she hopes to eliminate it in two years. Revenues, she said, are already close to pre-scandal levels.

“It’s indicative,” Ms. Ungaro said, “that this foundation has great good will.”

In the 21 years since it started as an effort to save the home of Mr. Beard after he died in 1985, the foundation became a sort of Vatican of the American food world. Its awards can establish a chef’s career, put a restaurant on the map and give prestige to writers, broadcasters and designers. About 300 times a year chefs from around the country prepare meals at the house, at 167 West 12th Street, providing themselves with a showcase and the foundation with much of its revenue.

But when Mr. Pickell’s wrongdoing and the group’s shoddy management were disclosed in September 2004, many who had worked with the foundation said publicly what they had only whispered before: Where had all the money from all those Beard House dinners gone, and what was the foundation doing, anyway?

They were shocked to discover that only $29,000 of the foundation’s operating funds went to scholarships, which many chefs and participants said they thought were a major purpose of the dinners and other activities.

Under the new leadership, overall scholarship funding changed modestly. The foundation also functions as a conduit for funds earmarked by donors for scholarships and including those, it gave out $155,750 in the last fiscal year, according to the organization’s chief financial officer, Marilyn Platzer. That’s about 9 percent more than was given out in the fiscal year Mr. Pickell left.

The foundation’s chairwoman since 2005, Dorothy Cann Hamilton, founder and president of the French Culinary Institute, said she too had been surprised to hear, after Mr. Pickell’s departure, how little went to scholarships.

“But,” Ms. Hamilton said, “we’re not here to support just a scholarship program, we’re here to celebrate, preserve, and nurture America’s culinary heritage.”

Ms. Ungaro said scholarships had to be considered in perspective. “Right now,” she said, “I need to make a concerted effort to get us out of the red.”

Andrea Clurfeld, food editor and restaurant critic for the Asbury Park Press, said that sounded familiar.

“Len Pickell would say, ‘Before we can focus on giving money to the scholarships we have to pay off the house,’ ” Ms. Clurfeld said. “And now these people are saying we have to get things in order before we pay more in scholarships.”

Generally, though, the foundation’s new leadership seems to have reassured its constituents.

In the article in The New York Times that first reported the scandal, Barbara Kafka, a cooking teacher and writer who has been on the foundation’s separate advisory board since its founding in 1986, called the organization “nothing more than an expensive dining club” that focused too much on the dinners.

But in an interview last week, Ms. Kafka, who will be given a Lifetime Achievement Award on Monday, said of the organization and its leaders, particularly Ms. Ungaro: “I think they can be trusted. I think they’ve tried to clean up their act.” She added, “There is some real creativity in the programs.” The major focus of the foundation’s programming, though, continues to be the Beard House dinners, which usually cost about $125 for members and $150 for others, and similar dinners around the country.

The most important function of the foundation is generally considered to be the awards, and for a while it seemed that their existence was more precarious than the foundation’s.

The awards to chefs and restaurants are overseen by a committee composed of journalists. But when representatives from The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Gourmet magazine, USA Today and the Seattle Times resigned in the fall of 2004 to avoid connection to the troubled organization, it looked like the awards might go under. (Pete Wells, a Beard award nominee this year for his work at Food & Wine magazine, resigned as a member of the restaurant committee when he became editor of the Dining section last fall.)

To save the awards, committee members and foundation trustees agreed in February 2005 that the awards would be run separately from the organization. But that agreement was voided after the trustees resigned, to be replaced by a new 22-member board, and Ms. Hamilton took over as chairwoman. A trustee, Emily Luchetti, the executive pastry chef at Farallon in San Francisco, is now the chairwoman of the awards committee, which oversees the awards program.

Those who fought to have the awards run separately never said the process was tainted, but they want to avoided the appearance that the board had an undue influence.

“There had always been rumors that in order to win awards you had to cook at the house,” said Phyllis Richman, the former restaurant critic for The Washington Post and a member of the awards committee. “That was never true, but it was very hard to convince the public that it wasn’t true and that’s why we wanted to set this up.”

When chefs cook lunches and dinners at the Beard House, for as many as 84 people, they must pay for food, labor, lodging and travel, which some have said can cost as much as $20,000. Under Mr. Pickell, there had been a stipend of $15 to $25 a seat, which is now as much as $1,500 per lunch or dinner. But now as then, Beard officials say, most chefs give back the stipend.

Chefs say that cooking at the Beard House can be worth the cost, though, especially for those outside of the biggest cities. Sanford D’Amato, a member of the foundation’s advisory committee and the chef and owner of Sanford Restaurant in Milwaukee, said that when a chef cooks at the Beard House he gains attention in the local media and nationally. The program, he said, “really brought out an awareness of food around the country.”

To help defray the costs now borne by chefs, Ms. Ungaro said that when the foundation, along with the estate of Mr. Beard, reissues his book “Beard on Food,” any advance and royalties will go to a fund for them.

Other fund-raising efforts have been more elaborate. “Spain’s 10: Cocina de Vanguardia,” a dinner in October with some of the reigning chefs of Spain, with tickets priced at $750 and $1,000, netted the foundation $400,000, according to Ms. Ungaro. As part of its Masterpiece Dining series, the foundation charged $1,000 a person for a dinner served by the Spanish chef Miguel Sánchez Romera on March 30. While 50 seats were available, Ms. Ungaro said 25 tickets were sold. A $500 a seat “Night at Rao’s” is sold out, Ms. Ungaro said, while $500 tickets are still available for a Masterpiece Dining dinner with Jacques Pépin and Alain Sailhac.

The cost of this year’s awards gala on Monday and the Beard media awards on Sunday night at the Hudson Theater will be about $1.2 million, slightly higher than last year’s, according to David Bowen, who is overseeing the production of the event. Ms. Ungaro said that a week before the gala, sales of tickets at $450 for members and $400 for others ($75 more than last year) were already on par with what they were last year. She said she expected the event, which has never been a big money maker, to maybe bring in $100,000 for the foundation.

“I have optimism and belief,” Ms. Ungaro said. “ I feel like we’ve had our big waves. But I feel if I can turn around losses 50 percent, that’s pretty good.”

The James Beard Awards: A Dubious Legacy

About two weeks ago, the James Beard Foundation announced it was cancelling the James Beard Awards for 2020 and 2021. The stated reason was the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the food industry, but several media outlets have suggested otherwise.

I met James Beard once. He was a blunt, crusty guy, the type of person who didn’t suffer fools gladly—or at all. Over the course of his long career as a chef, cookbook author and media personality, he became known as “The Dean of American Cuisine.” Among other things, he was an early proponent of what would now be called the farm-to-table movement.

After Beard’s death in 1986, one of his students purchased his Greenwich Village brownstone and turned it into a shrine. The James Beard Foundation began hosting dinners prepared by famous chefs, with the proceeds earmarked for a scholarship fund to benefit rising culinary stars. Given that the 300-pound Beard (an openly gay man during an era when homosexuality was criminalized in America) was reportedly in the habit of parading naked through the brownstone, some people in the neighborhood probably regarded the dinners as an improvement. The annual James Beard Awards (self-described by the Foundation as “the Oscars of the food industry”) followed in 1990.

Leonard F. Pickell Jr. became president of the JBF in 1995 and resigned in 2004 after it was discovered he had been embezzling money from the Foundation. Rather than providing scholarships for young culinarians, the funds were being used to subsidize Pickell’s jet-setting lifestyle. He pleaded guilty to a theft of more than $1 million and spent a year in prison.

Scandal or no scandal, the JBF’s record on philanthropy is in the eye of the beholder. The Foundation claims to have given away $8 million between 1991 and 2018, or roughly $300,000 per year. While that sum is certainly better than nothing, it seems low when you consider that JBF benefactors include some of the wealthiest people in Manhattan—the same folks who would benefit from an ongoing culinary renaissance in this country.

Fast forward to August 20, when the JBF announced cancellation of the awards. Citing “sustained upheaval” within the restaurant community, they didn’t feel that giving out awards was appropriate. While few could argue with that position, a backstory was quick to emerge.

In addition to the pandemic, the awards were unfolding in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests following George Floyd’s death. According to, voting on the awards had been completed when the Foundation realized there were no black winners (even though there had been some people of color among the nominees). The New York Times reported that this was a key consideration in the Foundation’s decision to cancel.

Beyond the matter of race was the persistent pattern of sexual harassment that appeared to be business as usual in the nation’s kitchens. A few nominees asked to be removed from consideration because of allegations against them, and the Foundation requested that several others withdraw. The Times observed that “The restaurant-going public was rapidly changing its notions of which chef behaviors should be rewarded…”

Perhaps all of this will be sorted out by 2022, but there’s little doubt how outraged Beard himself would be if he could witness what was being perpetrated in his name. All of us can only hope to receive better treatment when we’re gone.

Mark Spivak specializes in wine, spirits, food, restaurants and culinary travel. He is the author of several books on distilled spirits and the cocktail culture. His first two novels, Friend of the Devil and The American Crusade, are available on Amazon his third novel, Impeachment, will be released on October 15.

James Beard Foundation Announces 2020 America’s Classics Award Honorees

The James Beard Foundation announced today the six recipients of its 2020 America’s Classics Award. Over the course of the last week, the James Beard Foundation has revealed two honorees daily via the Foundation’s Instagram page in partnership with a selection of prominent food industry friends of the Foundation located in each of the honorees’ regions.

The America’s Classics Award is given to locally owned restaurants that have timeless appeal and are beloved regionally for quality food that reflects the character of its community. This year’s honorees join the ranks of over 100 restaurants across the country that have received the Award since the category was introduced in 1998. They will be celebrated at the annual James Beard Awards Gala on Monday, May 4, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

The 2020 James Beard Foundation America’s Classics Award winners are:

Lassis Inn (518 E. 27th St., Little Rock, AR Owners: Elihue Washington Jr. and Maria Washington)

In Arkansas, ordering buffalo ribs will land you a plate of fried fish–seasoned, battered ribs cut from local big-boned buffalo fish. In Little Rock, the place to eat them is Lassis Inn. Founded by Joe and Molassis Watson in 1905, it started as a sandwich shop out of their home, with Joe later adding catfish and buffalo ribs to the menu. Lassis Inn (the name is a shorthand for Molassis) later became a meeting place for Civil Rights leaders like Daisy Bates during the 󈧶s and 󈨀s. Under current owners Elihue Washington Jr. and his wife Maria, it remains a community hub–a gathering spot where people come for buffalo ribs, cold beer, and warm conversation.

Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth (730 S. Main St., Frankenmuth, MI Owner: Dorothy Zehnder and family)

Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth, a chicken-dinner behemoth positioned between Detroit and Michigan’s summer lake destination, is decidedly on the beaten path. William Zehnder, Sr. and his wife Emilie bought a former hotel in 1928. Today the restaurant — part of a complex, run by third and fourth generation family members, that includes a hotel, waterpark, and golf course — can accommodate 1,500 guests and brings in close to a million people each year. Road-trippers come for family-style meals of crisp-skinned fried chicken, dressing, mashed potatoes, liver pâté, cranberry relish, cottage cheese, and more, all replenished until worn-out diners signal they’re ready for a scoop of sherbet with a paper American flag planted alongside the maraschino cherry. Then it’s time to pose for photos with a patient mascot in a rooster suit.

Puritan Backroom (245 Hooksett Rd., Manchester, NH Owner: Arthur Pappas, Chris Pappas and Eric Zink)

In 1906, friends Arthur Pappas and Louis Canotas left Greece in search of a sweeter life. They opened the Puritan Confectionary Company in Manchester in 1917, the first in a line of ice cream shops and restaurants throughout the city. Their children followed in their footsteps, opening the Puritan Backroom in 1974. Today this location also includes a bustling takeout business and a conference and event center. Customers still line up for Puritan ice cream, and crowd into booths for American comfort food and Greek classics. Above all, they come for chicken tenders (which the Backroom claims to have invented), along with a mudslide or two, another house specialty. This New Hampshire mainstay has become a required stop for candidates passing through on the campaign trail. In an era of division, it is a rare nonpartisan space where everyone feels welcome. Today the restaurant is run by third-generation owner Arthur Pappas, son Chris, and son-in-law Eric. Chris Pappas, who caught the political bug growing up at the restaurant, is currently a New Hampshire congressman.

Oriental Mart (1506 Pike Pl., #509, Seattle, WA Owner: Mila Apostol and Joy Apostol)

In 1971, Mila Apostol opened Oriental Mart also known as “O’Mart” in Pike Place Market to give fellow Filipino immigrants the groceries and culture they missed from back home. Eventually, Mila and her eldest daughter Leila raided their store shelves to make adobo and sinigang for farmers delivering produce to the market. Word spread to Filipino flight crews and cruise ship workers, but also to Seattle at large. Today, Mila’s daughter Joy runs the retail side of their market stall, while Leila oversees a counter in the style of the Philippines’ turo restaurants, filling her glass hot case with the fried noodles known as pancit, juicy longanisa, and long-simmered adobo. There’s always sinigang Leila adapts the classic tamarind-sour soup to its Northwest surroundings with salmon collars procured from neighboring fish vendors.

El Taco de Mexico (714 Santa Fe Drive, Denver, CO Owner: Sasha Zanabria)

Among Denver’s thriving Mexican food culture, El Taco de Mexico is a lodestar whose appeal cuts across lines of race, class, and age. Maria Luisa Zanabria, a native of Mexico City, arrived in the city in 1985, first opening a trailer on Santa Fe Drive in Denver’s Art District. Her business grew into a small taqueria with a bright, bumblebee-yellow exterior. The serious, focused cooks (all women) keep pace with the all-day crowds, turning out tacos (carne asada, al pastor, and lengua are among the options), enchilada, gorditas, and weekend menudo. The restaurant’s crowning glory is the pork burrito, smothered in green chile humming with earthy spice. Made extra-heaping as a breakfast burrito stuffed with egg and chorizo, it brings bleary-eyed devotees back to life.

Vera’s Backyard Bar-B-Que (2404 Southmost Blvd, Brownsville, TX Owner: Armando Vera)

Armando “Mando” Vera and his family practice a near-lost art in South Texas: barbacoa de cabeza (barbecued cow’s head) buried underground in a brick-lined pit and smoked for up to 12 hours. The tradition stems from the region’s 19th century vaquero-cowboy culture Vera’s father opened a restaurant serving the specialty in 1955. Barbacoa is for weekend feasts. Customers request meat by the pound or half-pound (cachete, or cheek meat, is a rich and popular cut) and then build their own tacos with tortillas, homemade garnishes, onion, and cilantro that come with each order. Brownsville is a four-hour drive from San Antonio, the closest major Texas city, but the chance to savor this disappearing border-town delicacy merits a pilgrimage.

The 2020 James Beard Awards will mark the 30th anniversary of America’s most coveted and comprehensive honors for chefs, restaurants, journalists, authors, and other leaders in the food and beverage industry. Throughout their three-decade history, the Beard Awards have both sparked and reflected trends in America’s food culture. To commemorate the past, honor the present, and look to the future, the Foundation is celebrating the nominees, winners, events, and milestones that have created the dynamic and ever enlightening food and restaurant community we have today.
Embodying the Foundation’s mantra, Good Food for Good™, the Beard Awards also support sustainability, gender equality, inclusion, equity, and access for all. As the preeminent benchmark for culinary excellence, the Awards will continue to support the James Beard Foundation’s mission to make America’s food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone: celebrating the past while championing the future.

The Restaurant and Chef Awards semifinalists will be announced on Wednesday, February 26, 2020. Nominees for all award categories will be revealed on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. The celebrations will begin in New York City on Friday, April 24, 2020 at the James Beard Foundation Media Awards presented in association with HOUSTON FIRST©, an exclusive event honoring the nation’s top cookbook authors, culinary broadcast producers and hosts, and food journalists that will take place at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers.

The events then move to Chicago with the Leadership Awards Dinner taking place on Sunday, May 3, 2020, where honorees will be recognized for their work in creating a more healthful, sustainable, and just food world. The James Beard Awards Gala will take place on Monday, May 4, 2020, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. During the event, which is open to the public, awards for the Restaurant and Chef and Restaurant Design categories will be handed out, along with special achievement awards Lifetime Achievement, Design Icon, and America’s Classics. A gala reception will immediately follow, featuring top chefs and beverage professionals from across the country.

The 2020 James Beard Awards are presented by Capital One, the official credit card and banking partner of the James Beard Foundation. Through this first-of-its-kind partnership, Capital One cardholders enjoy exclusive access across signature James Beard Foundation programs including the Taste America tour, JBF Greens: Foodies Under Forty, and the iconic James Beard House.
The 2020 James Beard Awards are presented by Capital One, the official credit card and banking partner of the James Beard Foundation. The James Beard Awards are proudly hosted by Choose Chicago and the Illinois Restaurant Association and presented in association with Chicago O’Hare and Midway International Airports and Magellan Corporation, as well as the following partners: Premier Sponsors: All-Clad Metalcrafters, American Airlines, the official airline of the James Beard Foundation, HMSHost, Lavazza, S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water Supporting Sponsors: Marriott Bonvoy™, National Restaurant Association®, Skuna Bay Salmon, Tabasco® Sauce, Valrhona, White Claw® Hard Seltzer, Windstar Cruises, the official cruise line of the James Beard Foundation Gala Reception Sponsors: Ecolab, Front of the House®, Kendall College, with additional support from VerTerra Dinnerware. Intersport is the Official Broadcast Partner of the 2020 James Beard Awards.

Established in 1990, the James Beard Awards recognize culinary professionals for excellence and achievement in their fields and further the Foundation’s mission to celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders making America’s food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone.
The first James Beard Awards were given in 1991. The James Beard Awards are governed by the volunteer Awards Committee. Each Awards program (Restaurants and Chefs, Books, Journalism, Design, Broadcast Media, and Leadership) has its own subcommittee made up of industry professionals who volunteer their time to oversee the policies, procedures, and selection of judges for their respective Awards programs. All James Beard Award winners receive a certificate and a medallion engraved with the James Beard Foundation Awards insignia.

Local Sponsors Team Up With James Beard Foundation Dinner In Seattle

Seattle, WA (PRWEB) August 28, 2017

B&E Meats and Seafood, Agri Beef, LUWA Luxury Products, and Hestan collaborate to sponsor this year's James Beard Foundation's Taste America: A Night of Culinary Stars, coming to Seattle's Fairmont Olympic Hotel on Oct. 13.

Spanning six weekends between Sept. 22 and Nov. 11, the James Beard Foundation's Taste America stops in 10 American cities, including Austin, Boston, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Seattle. Each city’s weekend-long itinerary features a one-of-a-kind benefit dinner prepared by a Taste America All-Star and Local Star chef free in-store consumer events at select Sur La Table® locations with celebrity chef appearances, cooking demos, book signings, and more. Full details are available at

In Seattle, All-Star chef Ashley Christensen from North Carolina will join Local Star Matt Dillon, both James Beard Medalists, host chef Paul Shewchuk of the Fairmont, and Baruch Ellsworth of Canlis to prepare a four-course meal. Reception chefs include James Beard Award winner Holly Smith (Cafe Juanita, Kirkland), James Beard Award semi-finalists Nathan Lockwood (Altura, Seattle) and Maximillian Petty (Eden Hill, Seattle), James Beard Award nominee Rachel Yang (Joule/Revel/Trove/Revelry, Seattle) and Huxley Wallace Collective founder and chef Josh Henderson.

Known for sourcing and offering local, high-quality meats and seafood, B&E Meats and Seafood, Seattle's neighborhood butcher, will partner with Agri Beef to provide, prepare and cut selected beef to Christensen's main-course specifications. Agri Beef is a proud, family-owned company offering four premium brands to the marketplace, including B&E Meats and Seafood. Owners Jeff Green and Steve Dunaychuk are equally excited about their participation in this year’s chef-inspired event.

Luwa Luxury Products is the proud distributor of Hestan. This award-winning brand, in collaboration with Chef Thomas Keller, has revolutionized the culinary industry by bringing a new level of performance, design and culinary innovation to commercial and outdoor kitchen products. In partnership with B&E Meats and Seafood, Luwa’s Bellevue showroom provides expert culinary education in luxury indoor and outdoor kitchen products to the Pacific Northwest and Canada.

As part of its participation in Taste America, Luwa Luxury Products and Hestan partnered with B&E Meats and Seafood to donate a live-auction package valued at $10,000.

"Connoisseurs, foodies and home chefs alike are already purchasing the remaining tickets to this year's event," says Varsity Communications CEO Dick Stephens, the event's local planner. "The last two Taste America dinners in Seattle each sold out, and we expect the same this year."

Tickets are available online at For media inquiries, contact Brian Beaky at brian(at)

About James Beard Foundation & Taste America
Founded in 1986, the James Beard Foundation celebrates, nurtures, and honors America's diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire. A cookbook author and teacher with an encyclopedic knowledge about food, the late James Beard was a champion of American cuisine. He helped educate and mentor generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts, instilling in them the value of wholesome, healthful, and delicious food. Today JBF continues in the same spirit by administering a number of diverse programs that include educational initiatives, food industry awards, scholarships for culinary students, publications, chef advocacy training, and thought-leader convening. The Foundation also maintains the historic James Beard House in New York City’s Greenwich Village as a “performance space” for visiting chefs. For more information, please visit Get food news, recipes, and more at the James Beard Foundation’s blog, or subscribe to the free digital newsletter Beard Bites. Follow the James Beard Foundation on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Livestream.

About B&E Meats and Seafood
Founded nearly 60 years ago by brothers Bob and Earl Green, B&E Meats and Seafood serves the Northwest with the highest quality meats and freshest seafood, including Copper River Salmon, and outstanding marinated products such as Teriyaki Beef Tri-tips, Kalbi Marinated Beef Ribs, Award-Winning Beef Jerky, and always delicious Smoked Salmon Candy. After nearly 40 successful years in the meat business, Bob and Earl retired, and Bob’s son and daughter-in-law, Jeff and Trisha Green, took the helm. Together with their daughter, Dena, who joined the family business in 2008, and Steve Dunaychuk, who became a partner in 2014, the business has continued to grow thanks to friendly team and high-quality, unique products. B&E was voted "Best Butcher” in KING5 - Evening Magazine Best of Western Washington contest in 2014, and in August were voted in Seattle's A-List Best Butcher and Best Fish Market for 2017.

About Agri Beef
Agri Beef is proud to be a family-owned company offering four premium brands to the marketplace, including Snake River Farms and Double R Ranch. The mild climate and rich grazing of the Pacific Northwest make for the ideal conditions to raise exceptional beef. But that’s just the beginning of the story. Agri Beef's comprehensive ranch-to-table approach means they are involved in every aspect of production — from ranches to feed yards to final processing — to consistently deliver the highest quality products. Today, Agri Beef's products enjoy an unparalleled reputation for excellence among chefs and connoisseurs in the U.S. and more than 30 countries worldwide, with customers that include top retailers and Michelin-starred restaurants. They demand nothing less than the best — and Agri Beef delivers.

About Luwa Luxury Products
Luwa is a family-owned company headquartered in the heart of the Pacific Northwest. Luwa Luxury Products is the premier distributor of luxury home appliances and outdoor living products. Through its retail partners, Luwa's goal is to give consumers access to some of the world’s finest products. They make visions come to life with the brands that deliver the best performance for your lifestyle, with the highest level of service for each customer's needs. Visit the Luwa Studio in Bellevue to test-drive the finest products on the market and receive expert knowledge and guidance for your indoor and outdoor kitchen. Whether you or your designer are seeking guidance on your dream project or you want advice on the best ways to take advantage of your Luwa products, Luwa is here for you from start to finish. In addition to its world-class products, Luwa offers detailing and cleaning services for indoor and outdoor products, as well as cooking demonstrations, corporate events and trainings.

About Hestan
The Hestan Team reinvented the restaurant kitchen with award-winning, inventive design. Now engineers, designers, welders and fabricators have turned their attention to the backyard. With over 200 years' experience in the culinary world, Hestan knew they could bring a new level of performance to the outdoor kitchen – and make it in the USA. So the company went to work on Hestan Outdoor. Every hinge, handle, grate and burner represents countless hours of thoughtful design. Hestan delivers precision performance to reach your culinary aspirations – and heavy-duty construction to weather the great outdoors. Hestan Outdoor is headquartered in a state-of-the-art, 130,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Anaheim, Calif. – including a showroom, testing kitchen and certified testing lab. Hestan continues to collaborate with innovative chefs like Thomas Keller to create products that not only keep pace with culinary evolution, but stay ahead of it.

James Beard Foundation Now Accepting Applications for Women’s Leadership Programs

For more than six years, the James Beard Foundation has successfully administered programs to improve the status of women and address the gender imbalance in leadership throughout the restaurant industry. Apart from providing scholarships and fostering discussions through industry events and roundtables, the JBF Women’s Leadership Programs directly invest in building the skill sets of women, backed by a committed group of restaurateur/chef mentors and advisors from across the country.

“Well before the Women’s March and the #MeToo movement that are shedding much needed light for women across all industries, we have been appalled by the structural limitations in the culinary industry for women and the abysmal paucity of women leaders in our field,” says JBF Women in Culinary Leadership program co-founder Rohini Dey, Ph.D., who is also a JBF trustee, and owner of Vermilion in Chicago. “It is our conviction that only ownership and leadership will truly change the narrative, enabling women to shatter the gastro-ceiling and break out of their pink cages this is the rationale for the creation of our women’s programs.”

The James Beard Foundation announced that it is accepting applications for its two Women’s Leadership Programs (WLP): JBF Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (WEL), a fellowship program for restaurant owners and food-industry entrepreneurs looking to grow their careers and scale their businesses, and JBF Women in Culinary Leadership (WCL), a mentorship program to provide more junior women committed to their culinary careers with accelerated front- or back-of-house training and access to business training.

“The James Beard Foundation’s Women’s Leadership Programs seek to empower the next generation of culinary talent—from line cook to restaurant owner—to excel in their chosen field by offering the participants the skills and know-how necessary to achieve success,” says Clare Reichenbach, chief executive officer of the James Beard Foundation. “We are especially grateful to all of our mentors as well as to our Women’s Leadership Program Advisory Board for their continued support to address the gender imbalance in the food world.”

Women in Culinary Leadership Program

Established in 2012, the WCL program is a learning-by-doing, paid mentorship program that places women looking to further their culinary and/or hospitality careers with industry leaders, who take them into their own restaurants for an intensive nine-month training in either the front or the back of the house, and who financially sponsor their program. In addition to on-the-job training from their respective mentors, mentees also benefit from monthly check-ins and oversight of their training program by the James Beard Foundation. A highlight of the mentee experience is a one-week stage at the James Beard House where they either cook with multiple renowned chefs or work closely with the JBF staff.

“It has been beyond gratifying to foster the sustained growth of WCL from one mentee in 2012, to 23 mentees this year,” says JBF Award–winning chef and trustee, Mary Sue Milliken, who is also a mentor in the WCL program. “We know this in-depth training and support not only changes their skill sets, career trajectories, access, and networks, but reinforces their confidence and increases their aspirations as well.”

Through the 2017 cycle, the WCL program has provided mentorship opportunities across the country for more than 40 women, with 25 top industry leaders participating as mentors. The James Beard Foundation is proud to offer an additional 23 positions with the following mentors this year. This year’s candidates may apply for the following Chef/Back-of-House (BoH) or Hospitality/Front-of-House (FoH) programs:

  • 1. José Andrés—Think Food Group, Washington, D.C. and Las Vegas (BoH and FoH)
  • 2. Kim Bartmann—Bartmann Restaurant Group, Minneapolis (BoH and FoH)
  • 3. Elizabeth Blau—Blau & Associates, Las Vegas (BoH and FoH)
  • 4. Kevin Boehm—BOKA Restaurant Group, Chicago (BoH and FoH)
  • 5. Kevin Brown—Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants, Chicago (FoH)
  • 6. Lauren DeSteno—Altamarea Group, New York City (BoH)
  • 7. Rohini Dey, Ph.D. —Vermilion, WCL Co-Founder, Chicago (BoH and FoH)
  • 8. Tom Douglas—Tom Douglas Restaurants, Seattle (BoH)
  • 9. Paul Fehribach—Big Jones, Chicago (BoH)
  • 10. Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken—Border Grill, Las Vegas (BoH)
  • 11. Paul Kahan and Donnie Madia—One Off Hospitality, Chicago (BoH)
  • 12. Angie Mar—The Beatrice Inn, NYC (BoH)
  • 13. Ti Adelaide Martin—Commander’s Palace, New Orleans (FoH)
  • 14. Sarah Robbins—21c Museum Hotels, Louisville, KY (BoH)
  • 15. Stephen Starr—STARR Restaurants, NYC or Philadelphia (BoH)

“I encountered situations through this program that forced me to do things differently, interrupt patterns of behavior, and recognize new strengths in myself,” says Jasmine Sheth, 2017 WCL mentee (Vermilion). “In addition to the core skills I learned about running a restaurant, this mentorship has helped prepare me for a career that is about leadership, creativity, flexibility, and inventiveness.”

The WCL mentorships must be taken at times mutually agreed upon by the applicant and mentor, and completed within one year after they are awarded. For more information on the WCL program and to download the application, please visit: The deadline for submissions is March 31 at 11:59pm ET.

Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Program

“Running a restaurant or growing a business is hard for everyone, men and women,” says Mitchell Davis, executive vice president of the James Beard Foundation. “But research shows that women restaurateurs have a harder time finding investment capital, being heard during negotiations, and gaining the media attention they deserve. We want to fix that with the Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership program.”

Launched in September 2017, the Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership program comprises an annual fellowship for a class of up to 20 women to attend a five-day entrepreneurship/leadership training program developed with and hosted at Babson College. The WEL program is targeted to women chefs/owners of at least one restaurant or food business, and addresses advanced business and finance concerns related to entrepreneurship, growth, and expansion.

The program was spearheaded by Jodie McLean, chief executive officer of the retail real estate development firm EDENS, and launched with foundational support from Women Chefs and Restaurateurs (WCR). “It’s imperative to have more women leaders owning and operating thriving scalable businesses,” said McLean. “The benefits to an entire organization and industry are significant when women are in executive leadership roles and can impact policy, guide growth, and set practices. This isn't about fairness it’s about good business.”

“To be forced to be thousands of miles away from my restaurant for a solid week only to consider its growth—it was an extraordinary gift,” says Lien Ta, 2017 WEL fellow and co-owner of Here’s Looking at You restaurant in Los Angeles.

For more information on the WEL program and to download the application, please visit: The deadline for submissions is March 31 at 11:59pm ET.

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News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by FSR, Food News Media, or Journalistic, Inc.

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