Awards Watch: Meet the 2016 America's Classics

The 2016 James Beard Foundation's America's Classics


Today we're excited to announce a perennial Beard-Award favorite: the America's Classics winners! This honor is given to regional establishments, often family-owned, that are treasured for their quality food, local character, and lasting appeal. Read on to learn more about our 2016 America's Classics. The winners will receive their medallions at the James Beard Awards Gala at Lyric Opera of Chicago on Monday, May 2.  


Read the full 2016 America's Classics press release. And don't forget: our new cookbook, James Beard's All-American Eats, featuring stories and recipes from past America's Classics winners, is now available. 


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Introducing Our New Cookbook, "James Beard's All-American Eats"


What makes a restaurant an America’s Classic? The James Beard Awards committee’s official definition is “a restaurant with timeless appeal, beloved in its region for quality food that reflects the character of its community.” An America’s Classic also must have been operating for at least ten years and be locally owned. Unofficially, but fittingly, these establishments are often brimming with history and stories; eating at one can transport you to a bygone era. All are worth a detour, some extra miles on the odometer.



Since 1998, nearly 100 eateries, from Prince’s Hot... Read more >

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America’s Classics Across the Country


Our America’s Classics Award winners crisscross the country from coast to coast, representing the diverse culinary heritage of the U.S. Here’s a bird’s-eye view of the nearly 100 beloved restaurants distinguished by their timeless appeal, quality eats, and local character (you can also see the full list here). Stay tuned for our next batch of winners, which will be announced on February 23, 2016.




Our new America's Classics cookbook, ... Read more >

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The 2016 JBF Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists

The 2016 Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists

Here they are! Below are the semifinalists for the 2016 Restaurant and Chef Awards. Read on for semifinalists in all categories, from Outstanding Restaurant to Rising Star Chef of the Year.


For a refresher on how these names were selected, read this. And don't forget: we'll announce the final Restaurant and Chef Award nominees, as well as the nominations for our Book, Journalism, Broadcast Media, and Restaurant Design Awards, in San Francisco and on Twitter on Tuesday, March 15.


The 2016 James Beard Awards Gala will be held at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on... Read more >

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America's Classics: Jose Garces on Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C.

Photo by James Collier


Ben’s Chili Bowl
Washington, D.C.


The first time I visited Ben's Chili Bowl was on a solo mission during the fall of 2011, while I was visiting D.C. to explore the market for restaurant opportunities. I had heard tons about it from chef and industry friends there. Before I even set foot inside, I loved seeing the various hot dogs and sausages that were in the storefront window on a plancha, and the aroma that hung in the air of beef franks being cooked was a fantastic sign for what was to come.


Jose Garces, JBF Award Winner




... Read more >

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James Beard’s All-American Eats


In his foreword for our new cookbook, Andrew Zimmern waxes poetic on the appeal and importance of our America’s Classics Award–winning restaurants


James Beard once said, “I don’t like gourmet cooking or ‘this’ cooking or ‘that’ cooking. I like good cooking.” 


I love grand restaurants. I love seeing what the world’s most highly motivated and inventive culinarians can do, pushing themselves to the outer limits of their potential to produce food that will influence chefs for generations to come. I am one of the few who adore being dazzled for hours, sucking down course after course, getting a food high from 24 plates that all look like children’s portions designed by interior decorators. I want to see what the greatest chefs can do with a foraged matsutake mushroom and a frying pan, or an anti-griddle and immersion circulator. I am guilty. I’m that guy. And yet I would trade all of that in, every tasting menu, every fought-over reservation, every fancy-food feather... Read more >

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Awards Watch: Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists Announced Next Week; Nominees Will Be Announced in San Francisco

2016 James Beard Awards

The first milestone of Beard Awards season arrives next week! On the morning of Wednesday, February 17, we'll post the complete Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalists right here on the JBF blog. The list will include semifinalists for our ten regional "Best Chef" awards, as well as for national honors like Outstanding Restaurant, Rising Star Chef of the Year, and Outstanding Bar Program.


Where do the semifinalists come from? The process began in October with an open call online; anyone could submit up to two entries per category. After receiving about 20,000 submissions, our Restaurant and Chef Awards Committee,... Read more >

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Awards Watch: How the Book Awards Are Judged


Tell people you are a food writer and often they assume you're a restaurant critic. 


It's the same when I tell people that I serve on the James Beard Foundation's Book Awards subcommittee. They assume I pick the winning books. The reality is that my fellow subcommittee members and I are administrators, not judges. 


Each January, we gather at the Foundation's accounting firm in New York City with the 400-plus books that have been entered for consideration. We review all of the books to make sure they qualify based on the rules. We make sure they are entered in the correct categories. We each oversee a category or two and assign independent judges to those categories. Each category has four... Read more >

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Leah Chase to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award; Father Gregory Boyle, S.J. is Humanitarian of the Year

2016 James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement award recipient Leah Chase


The James Beard Foundation is thrilled to announce the recipients of its 2016 Lifetime Achievement and Humanitarian of the Year awards. Both honorees will accept their Beard medallions at the James Beard Awards on Monday, May 2, at Lyric Opera of Chicago.


This year’s Lifetime Achievement award will go to chef, restaurateur, television personality, and “Queen of Creole Cuisine” Leah Chase, whose New Orleans restaurant, Dooky Chase’s, pioneered Creole cooking in the United States and made dishes like jambalaya, gumbo, and fried chicken into kitchen staples. In a town deeply divided by segregation, Dooky Chase’s, which is still open today, was one of the only public places in New Orleans where mixed race groups could meet to discuss strategy for the local Civil Rights Movement. Chase is also a... Read more >

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Sponsored: Channel Your Inner Chef to Win a Trip to the Beard Awards from HMSHost

Channel Your Inner Chef to Win a Trip to the Beard Awards from HMSHost


Do you love to cook? Do you dream of rubbing elbows with your favorite food TV stars on the red carpet at the James Beard Awards? 2016 JBF Awards sponsor HMSHost invites you to channel your inner chef and enter to win VIP tickets for two to this year's Awards ceremony in Chicago. 


Here's how to enter: 

Contestants are asked to shoot a five-minute video of themselves preparing their favorite original recipe while showing off their personal style. Contestants then submit the video by February 28, 2016, at A panel will then select five finalists to compete in a cook-off to be performed in front of a live audience and judges at Chicago O’Hare International Airport on March 22. 


HMSHost will reveal a winner following a live, 30-minute cook-off by the five finalists. The winner is presented with prizes... Read more >

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