Navigating for Awards
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- How long is the Awards Ceremony?
- The Awards Ceremony lasts approximately three hours. The Gala Reception follows immediately after the ceremony.
- Can I come late?
- Late arriving guests will be seated during appropriate breaks in the program.
- Can I volunteer at the Awards?
- There are a limited number of volunteer opportunities available for the Awards. If you are interested in volunteering, please call 914.231.6180. If you are a culinary student and wish to apply to volunteer for the Awards, please download the volunteer guidelines, and then click here to apply.
- Is the Gala Reception seated?
- The Gala Reception is a walk-around tasting event and seating is not available. There is, however, seating available as part of the VIP experience at a premier ticket price. For more information, please call 914.231.6180.
- What food is being served?
- Is the Lyric Opera of Chicago handicapped accessible?
- Are children permitted to attend?
- Yes, children are permitted to attend; however, the Awards Ceremony lasts three hours so we advise only bringing children 12 years of age or older.
- Is there an after party?
- Although many chefs and restaurants around town host parties after the Awards for their friends, colleagues, and clients, none of these parties are technically “official.” We encourage everyone to celebrate the achievement of the nominees and winners at the Gala Reception before going to any after parties to which they have been invited.
- Are there assigned seats for the event? Will I be able to sit with everyone in my party?
- Yes, there is assigned seating. We will try our best to seat you with everyone in your party.
- How do I get my tickets for the event?
- Your tickets will arrive by mail and will be sent out approximately two weeks prior to the event.
- Can I pick my tickets up the day of the event?
- Tickets will be mailed approximately two weeks prior to the event. However, a “will call” desk will be in the lobby to accommodate last minute requests.
- What do I do if I lose my ticket?
- Please call the Box Office at 914.231.6180 to inform us of a lost ticket. You will be asked to arrive early to Lyric Opera of Chicago on Monday, May 4, where we will issue you a location pass at the check-in desk.
- Does this event sell out?
- Yes, this event may sell out.
- Are tickets refundable?
- Tickets are non-refundable.
Policies and ProceduresTop
A James Beard Foundation Award has become the most coveted honor in the world of food and beverage because of the sound policies and procedures with which they are administered.
Governance, Structure, and Operations
The Awards Committee of the James Beard Foundation determines policies and procedures for the James Beard Foundation Awards. The volunteer committee consists of the chairperson of each individual Awards program, members of the Foundation's Board of Trustees, and members at large.
The James Beard Foundation Awards consist of six separate recognition programs and two special achievement awards: Books, Broadcast Media, Journalism, Restaurant Design, Restaurants and Chefs, Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America, Lifetime Achievement, and Humanitarian of the Year. Each program is administered by an independent volunteer committee whose members serve staggered terms of one to three years. Each committee chairperson reports to the Awards Committee. A committee member is ineligible to enter the awards competition of the program of which he or she is sitting on a committee during his or her year of service. (Though he or she may enter the competition of another awards program.)
Ballot tabulation for the James Beard Foundation Awards is handled by independent accounting firm Lutz and Carr. All results are final and are kept confidential until the Awards presentation ceremony.
The James Beard Foundation Awards are financed by the James Beard Foundation with partial underwriting ("sponsorship") provided by corporations, food product associations, and other contributors. Event and award sponsors neither vote nor influence the policies and procedures of the James Beard Foundation Awards. The James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards receive no outside corporate support and are financed solely by the James Beard Foundation to alleviate any intimation of bias or compromise of topics covered by the journalists.
The James Beard Foundation Awards open call-to-entry begins in mid-October. Semifinalists for the Restaurant and Chef Awards are announced in February. All Awards nominees are announced in March. Winners are announced at the Awards Gala and at the Book, Journalism, and Broadcast Media Awards Dinner in April and May. Each award winner receives a certificate and a bronze medallion engraved with the James Beard Foundation Awards insignia. Winners receive a complimentary membership for one year to the James Beard Foundation. There are no cash awards.
The Awards were established in 1990 and the first ceremony was in 1991.
2015 Awards Committee
John Washko (Committee Chair)
Types of AwardsTop
Restaurant and Chef Awards
The Restaurant and Chef awards were established in 1990 by the James Beard Foundation.
2015 Restaurant and Chef Awards Committee
Bill Addison, Eater.com
Tina Antolini, NPR’s State of the Re:Union
Michael Bauer, San Francisco Chronicle
Providence Cicero, The Seattle Times
Jennifer V. Cole, Southern Living
John T. Edge, Southern Foodways Alliance at the University of Mississippi
Adam Erace, Philadelphia City Paper
Ian Froeb, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Cheryl Alters Jamison, New Mexico Magazine
Kate Krader, Food & Wine
Corby Kummer, The Atlantic and Boston Magazine
Christiane Lauterbach, Atlanta Magazine and Knife & Fork
Patricia Sharpe, Texas Monthly
Tom Sietsema, Washington Post
Phil Vettel (Chair), Chicago Tribune
Irene Virbila, Los Angeles Times
Nominee Selection and Judging
Anyone can submit a chef or restaurant for consideration during the online open call for entries in the fall. There is no entry fee.
The Foundation received more than 38,000 entries for the 2014 Restaurant and Chef Awards.
The Restaurant and Chef Awards Committee produces a ballot with approximately 20 semifinalists in each category. This ballot is distributed online to a voting body of over 300 previous James Beard Restaurant & Chef Award winners; 250 panelists divided evenly among 10 regions (see below); and 17 members of the Restaurant and Chef Award subcommittee. All votes count equally and are tabulated by the independent accounting firm Lutz & Carr. The 5 semifinalists with the highest number of votes become the nominees.
The 20 semifinalists in each category are announced in mid-February. A ballot goes out electronically to the judges, and the 5 nominees in each category are announced in March. A second ballot is then distributed to the same voting body. Winners are announced at the Awards ceremony in May.
Criteria for Restaurant and Chef Awards
- Outstanding Restaurateur
- A working restaurateur who sets high national standards in restaurant operations and entrepreneurship. Candidates must have been in the restaurant business for at least 10 years. Candidates must not have won a James Beard Foundation chef award in the past five years.
- Outstanding Chef (Presented by All-Clad Metalcrafters)
- A working chef in America whose career has set national industry standards and who has served as an inspiration to other food professionals. Eligible candidates must have been working as a chef for the past five years.
- Outstanding Restaurant (Presented by Acqua Panna® Natural Spring Water)
- A restaurant in the United States that serves as a national standard bearer of consistent quality and excellence in food, atmosphere and service. Eligible restaurants must have been in operation 10 or more consecutive years.
- Rising Star Chef of the Year (Presented by S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Spring Water)
- A chef age 30 or younger who displays an impressive talent and who is likely to make a significant impact on the industry in years to come.
- Best New Restaurant (Presented by True)
- A restaurant opened in the calendar year before the award will be given that already displays excellence in food, beverage, and service, and that is likely to make a significant impact in years to come.
- Outstanding Pastry Chef
- A chef or baker who prepares desserts, pastries or breads in a restaurant, and who serves as a national standard bearer of excellence. Must have been a pastry chef or baker for the past five years.
- Outstanding Baker
- A chef or baker who prepares breads, pastries or desserts in a retail bakery, and who serves as a national standard-bearer of excellence. Must have been a baker or pastry chef for at least five years.
- Outstanding Service
- A restaurant in operation five or more years that demonstrates high standards of hospitality and service.
- Outstanding Wines, Beer, or Spirits Professional (Presented by Bacardi 8®)
- A beer, wine or spirits professional who has made a significant national impact on the restaurant industry.
- Outstanding Wine Program
- A restaurant in operation five or more years that serves as a standard bearer for excellence in wine service through a well-presented wine list, knowledgeable staff, and efforts to educate customers about wine.
- Outstanding Bar Program
- A restaurant or bar that demonstrates excellence in cocktail, spirits and/or beer service.
- Best Chefs (10 Regions)
- Chefs who have set new or consistent standards of excellence in their respective regions. Eligible candidates may be from any kind of dining establishment and must have been working as a chef for at least five years with the three most recent years spent in the region.
Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH)
Mid-Atlantic (D.C., DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA)
Midwest (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, WI)
New York City (Five Boroughs)
Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, NY State, RI, VT)
Northwest (AK, ID, MT, OR, WA, WY)
West (CA, HI, NV)
South (AL, AR, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, FL, LA, MS)
Southeast (GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV)
Southwest (AZ, CO, NM, OK, TX, UT)
America's Classics (Presented by the Coca-Cola Company)
A restaurant with timeless appeal, beloved in its region for quality food that reflects the character of its community. The establishment must have been in existence at least 10 years and be locally owned; preferably it is also informal and moderately priced.
Each year, five winners are chosen by the Restaurant and Chef Awards Committee. Winners are announced at the Nominees Breakfast in March.
The Book Awards that are administered by the James Beard Foundation were started in 1966 by French’s Mustard as the R. T. French Tastemaker Awards. They were administered briefly and in turn by Duncan Hines, Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, and the International Association of Culinary Professionals. The James Beard Foundation took them into the fold in 1990.
2015 Book Awards Committee
Scott Alves Barton
Andrea Weigl (Chair)
Nominee Selection and Judging
Any book published in English in the United States or Canada during the previous calendar year is eligible for an award. Publishers, editors, and authors submit their books for consideration in one of 13 categories: American Cooking, Baking and Dessert, Beverage, Cooking from a Professional Point of View, General Cooking, Healthy Focus, International, Photography, Reference and Scholarship, Single Subject, and Writing and Literature. There is a $100 entry fee for JBF members, $150 for non-members.
The Foundation received more than 350 entries for the 2014 Book Awards.
Four judges are assigned to each category. The judges (48 in total) are not committee members; rather, they’re editors, authors, journalists, and culinary educators who have not published a culinary book during the current Awards year.
Judges are looking for books that contribute to the growing canon of information and knowledge about food and beverage. Content, accuracy, design, and writing style are among the elements considered.
The Book Awards Committee selects the Cookbook of the Year from among the nominated books in each category. From among the books submitted for nomination, an award is given for Outstanding Photography. Each year the committee also inducts a classic cookbook or an author’s body of work into the Cookbook Hall of Fame.
The nominees are announced at a Nominees Breakfast in March. The winners are announced during the Book, Journalism, and Broadcast Media Awards Dinner in April. The author(s) of the book receive(s) the award.
Criteria for Book Awards
The Journalism Awards were established by the James Beard Foundation in 1992.
2015 Journalism Awards Committee
Dorothy Kalins (Chair)
Nominee Selection and Judging
Any article that was published in English in the United States or Canada during the previous calendar year is eligible. Writers, journalists, and editors submit their articles for consideration. There is a $100 entry fee for JBF members, $150 for non-members.
The Foundation received more than 550 entries for the 2014 Journalism Awards.
The judges, who are selected by the Journalism Awards Committee, comprise working editors, journalists (not covering food and beverage topics), retired food and beverage editors and writers, and deans and professors of leading journalism colleges. The judges (more than 100 in total) may not enter in the category that they are judging during the current Awards year.
The judges are looking for accurate, insightful reporting, exceptional writing, unusual perspectives, and other attributes of fine journalism as they pertain to food and beverage topics.
The three nominees in each category are announced at a Nominees Breakfast in March. The winners are announced during the Book, Journalism, and Broadcast Media Awards Dinner in May. The journalist(s) receive(s) the award.
Criteria for Journalism Awards
Restaurant Design Awards
The Restaurant Design Awards were established by the James Beard Foundation in 1994.
2015 Restaurant Design Awards Committee
James Biber (Chair)
Nominee Selection and Judging
Any restaurant or design project that was completed or redone in North America within three years prior to the year the award is being given is eligible. Architects, interior designers, and graphic designers submit their projects for consideration. There is a $100 entry fee for JBF members, $150 for non-members.
The Foundation received more than 100 entries for the 2014 Restaurant Design Awards.
The Restaurant Design Awards Committee is made up of architects, interior designers, and graphic designers. The committee both chooses the jurors who will judge the winners and oversees the process. They are looking for beautiful functional design that seamlessly melds the setting and theme of the restaurant environment.
The nominees are announced at a Nominees Breakfast in March. The winners are announced during the Awards Ceremony in May. The architect(s) or designer(s) receive(s) the award.
Criteria for Restaurant Design Awards
Broadcast and New Media Awards (Presented by Lenox Tableware and Gifts)
The Broadcast and New Media Awards were established in 1993 by the James Beard Foundation.
2015 Broadcast and New Media Awards Committee
Emerald Yeh (Chair)
Nominee Selection and Judging
Any English-language TV, radio, or webcast show or segment on food, cooking, or gastronomy, copyrighted and broadcast in the United States or Canada during the previous calendar year is eligible. Producers, writers, hosts, and other people involved in the production submit their work for consideration. There is a $100 entry fee for JBF members, $150 for non-members.
The Foundation received more than 250 entries for the 2014 Broadcast and New Media Awards.
The Broadcast and New Media Awards Committee divides the entries among 10 categories, with 5 to 6 judges are assigned to each category. The judges (more than 50 in total) are chosen by the committee. They include producers, educators, editors, and print journalists. Judges may not enter the category they are judging during current year. They are looking for creativity, accuracy, high production values, and a fresh perspective on food- and beverage-related topics.
The nominees are announced at a Nominees Breakfast in March. The winners are announced during the Book, Journalism, and Broadcast Media Awards Dinner in April. The host(s) or producer(s) receive(s) the award.
Criteria for Broadcast and New Media Awards
Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America
The Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America was started in 1984 by Cook’s Magazine and Restaurant Business. The James Beard Foundation took them into the fold in 1990.
2014 Who’s Who Committee
Robert Del Grande
Barbara Haber (Chair)
Nominee Selection and Judging
Any food or beverage industry professional who has made a significant contribution to the industry is eligible for induction. The current members of the Who’s Who are invited to submit names for consideration. Almost 70 names were submitted for consideration for 2014.
From the submissions, the Who’s Who Committee creates a nominating ballot and the entire Who’s Who group votes on the inductees for each year. They are looking for unique and long-lasting contribution to the field for at least a decade, with a national impact. The inductees are announced the Awards ceremony in May.
Lifetime Achievement and Humanitarian of the Year Awards
The Awards Committee selects the Lifetime Achievement and Humanitarian award recipients. They are announced at the Nominees Breakfast in March.