Read the complete list of the 2021 audit recommendations here and for the full press announcement click here.
For more than 30 years, the annual James Beard Awards have provided national acclaim and recognition of some of the best restaurants, food and beverage professionals, authors, publishers, journalists, broadcast media, and others in the food ecosystem.
In 2020, the country was forced to reckon with a pandemic that has been unforgiving to the food and beverage, hospitality, media, and broader food systems; and social uprising that laid bare existing racial injustice and inequities in the industry and beyond. The James Beard Foundation heard calls from the restaurant community and the public for a more inclusive and transparent Awards process, and we felt it was critical to take time for self-reflection around who and where we are as an organization. We recognized our responsibility as industry leaders and began the process of reviewing all elements of the Award program, and making comprehensive and meaningful changes. The Foundation made the difficult decision to forgo its traditional Awards presentation in 2020 and 2021 in light of the state of the industry and in order to focus on this work.
In August 2020, the James Beard Awards announced an audit of policies and procedures, which was conducted by a range of stakeholders, including subcommittee members, the Awards committee, James Beard Foundation staff, and consulting firms, EY, Rally and Postelsia, on topics such as protocols and process, equity and sustainability. In addition, Debevoise and Plimpton provided legal guidance during the process. We thank the many stakeholders who dedicated countless hours to carry out this meaningful work.
The audit objectives were to continue the work to remove any systemic bias, increase the diversity of the voting body, ensure that communities far and wide know about the awards and how eligible candidates may apply, increase transparency in how the Awards function, and align the Awards more outwardly with the Foundation’s mission and values. The areas of focus included a code of ethics; composition of committees and judges; criteria for winners; and developing policies and procedures for unforeseen events.
The Awards exist to serve, inspire, and celebrate the communities of independent restaurant and media industries.
We humbly give thanks to our industry for your patience this past year. As we move forward with these changes, we will continue to engage with our communities whom we serve and award in order to learn, adjust and continue building for the future.