In Memoriam: William Rice

Photo courtesy of the Chicago Tribune


​The James Beard Foundation is saddened to learn that journalist William Rice passed away last night at the age of 77. A graduate of both the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and Le Cordon Bleu in Paris (he was encouraged to attend the latter by then New York Times food critic Craig Claiborne), Rice was known for his intelligent reporting on food and beverages for the Washington Post and later the Chicago Tribune, where he worked for 17 years. He was also an inductee in the James Beard Foundation's Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America. "We mourn the loss of not only one of America's great food journalists and editors but a strong, smart, and graceful leader who served as chair of numerous James Beard Award committees through the years," says Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation. "Bill Rice was a role model for us all."


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In Memoriam: Sam Beall

Sam Beall with the chef participants of our pilot Chefs Boot Camp at Blackberry Farm, July 2012


The James Beard Foundation was saddened to hear that Sam Beall, proprietor of the multiple James Beard Award–winning Blackberry Farm and great friend and supporter of the James Beard Foundation, died yesterday at the age of 39. “Sam Beall was a visionary in more ways than one,” said Mitchell Davis, executive vice president of the James Beard Foundation. “He not only redefined the meaning of hospitality at his James Beard Award–winning Blackberry Farm—believed by many to be one of the best resorts in the world—but he also understood the importance of and strongly advocated for a more sustainable, wholesome food system. With Sam’s support and participation we created a pilot for the Foundation’s Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change. His loss will be felt around the world and forever.” Our thoughts are with Sam's wife, Mary-... Read more >

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In Memoriam: Gina DePalma


We are deeply saddened by the news that Gina DePalma, the beloved pastry chef and mentor to many in the culinary community, has passed away after a long battle with ovarian cancer. "Chef Gina inspired everyone who met her with her extraordinary culinary talent and generous heart," said JBF president Susan Ungaro. "Watching her deal so bravely and candidly with ovarian cancer these past seven years was inspiring and heartbreaking to all who knew and loved her. Our food world is a better place because of her contributions." 


DePalma first got her start in the kitchen at Chanterelle, followed by Gramercy Tavern. In 1998, Mario Batali recruited her as part of the opening team at Babbo, where she remained for 15 years. DePalma was the recipient of the Beard Award for... Read more >

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In Memoriam: George Germon

This photo of George Germon and Johanne Killeen ran in promotion of their Beard House dinner in 2001


The James Beard Foundation is saddened by the news that culinary pioneer George Germon, co-owner with Johanne Killeen of Providence's acclaimed Al Forno, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 70. Before becoming a chef, Germon was a sculptor and was known as a renaissance man, in addition to being a mentor to many. Al Forno gained a national reputation for its pizza, which was grilled over charcoal at extremely high heat (up to 1200 degrees). Germon and Killeen were recipients of the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Northeast in 1993, and Al Forno was nominated for our Outstanding Restaurant Award in 1998, 1999, and 2000. "George's passion for life and ingredients came through his food," said Emily Luchetti, fellow JBF Award winner and chair of the Foundation's board of trustees. "At Al Forno, he and Johanne were pioneers in using regional ingredients from Rhode Island in their traditional Italian... Read more >

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In Memoriam: Paul Prudhomme


The James Beard Foundation was saddened to hear that Paul Prudhomme, who many say was the first celebrity restaurant chef, has passed away at the age of 75. Prudhomme was the first American-born executive chef at Commander's Palace in New Orleans, and shot to further culinary fame when he opened K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen in 1980. "As our Foundation is about to celebrate the many great chefs and cuisine of New Orleans this weekend, we will miss and mourn the passing of  the great Paul Prudomme," said JBF president Susan Ungaro. "He was one of our country's first, best-loved celebrity chefs and had a huge influence on America's love for his home city and its exceptional food scene. New Orleans's loss is also America's."


Photo by Rick Bolen

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In Memoriam: Willie Mae Seaton


The James Beard Foundation was saddened to hear the news that Willie Mae Seaton, owner of Willie Mae's Scotch House in New Orleans, passed away on Friday, September 18, at the age of 99. In 2005, the James Beard Foundation named Willie Mae's Scotch House an America's Classic, and Willie Mae Seaton traveled to New York City to accept the restaurant's honor at that year's James Beard Awards. Later that year, Hurricane Katrina destroyed the restaurant, and it was rebuilt and reopened in 2007. "Hurricane Katrina may have put Willie Mae in the national news, but she was considered a culinary icon of New Orleans long before," said JBF president Susan Ungaro. "Her fried chicken was legendary but her incredible warmth and hospitality made her a treasure to us all. We were lucky to have her as a friend into her 99th year."

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In Memoriam: Kerry Simon


We are deeply saddened by the news that Kerry Simon, chef of several acclaimed restaurants including Carson Kitchen in Las Vegas and others across the country, passed away at the age of 60. Simon had long been suffering from MSA (multiple system atrophy), a severe and rare form of Parkinson's disease. “Kerry Simon was an exciting and inspiring chef, and we were honored to know him and have him as a friend and supporter of our Foundation,” said JBF president Susan Ungaro. “While our community has suffered a great loss, we know that his legacy will leave a lasting mark on the culinary landscape.” Famously dubbed the “Rock ‘n’ Roll Chef” by Rolling Stone magazine, Simon was still actively working on new projects, including a new gastropub in Nevada, despite being confined to a wheelchair. During his lauded career, Simon opened restaurants all over the world for industry icon Jean-Georges Vongerichten, catered tours for Led Zeppelin and other rock stars, won the... Read more >

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In Memoriam: Gerry Hayden


We are deeply saddened by the passing of acclaimed chef and restaurateur Gerry Hayden yesterday at the age of 50. “Chef Gerry Hayden had a profound influence on our culinary community both as a leader in the farm-to-table movement and as a man whose battle with ALS inspired everyone who saw him continue to do what he and his wife Claudia loved—to create a delicious and noteworthy restaurant,” said James Beard Foundation president Susan Ungaro. “We are proud to have had him as a friend and supporter of our mission.” Hayden cooked several times at the Beard House and at our annual Chefs & Champagne event, and was a four-time James Beard Award nominee for Best Chef: Northeast. Since 2006, Hayden has been running the lauded North Fork Table & Inn in Southold, New York, with his wife, Claudia Fleming. He will be sorely missed, and our thoughts are with his... Read more >

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In Memoriam: Walter Scheib


We are saddened to hear of the untimely passing of former White House chef Walter Scheib at 61. "Walter was a great friend of our Foundation and a great storyteller with a unique and fascinating perspective on American history," said JBF president Susan Ungaro. Scheib was White House chef for more than a decade under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, where he was known for highlighting American cuisine and ingredients. After leaving the White House he participated in several of our events, including a number of JBF Celebrity Chef Tour events, was featured at our Beard on Books educational series, and has cooked in the James Beard House kitchen. 

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In Memoriam: Josh Ozersky


We are deeply saddened by the unexpected passing of James Beard Award–winning American food writer Josh Ozersky yesterday in Chicago at the age of 47. "Everyone who knew Josh admired his passion for the culinary and literary arts," said James Beard Foundation president Susan Ungaro. "His wise and witty writing had a profound impact on all of us." Ozersky won a James Beard Award in 2008 for his work as founding editor of New York magazine's blog, Grub Street, and was a member of the James Beard Foundation Awards committee. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and colleagues.


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