Awards Code of Ethics


Read our statement on the 2023 Awards and the ethics process.

The James Beard Foundation, its Awards committee, and members of the subcommittees have established a Code of Ethics that is applicable to all Entrants, Semifinalists, Nominees, and Winners, as well as its voting body.

As a condition of eligibility for a James Beard Foundation Award, all Entrants, Semifinalists, Nominees, and Winners agree that they have acted and will continue to act in a manner that is consistent with the Code of Ethics and the values of the James Beard Foundation and its Awards Program.   

The following is a non-exhaustive list of behaviors and practices that are antithetical to the values of the James Beard Foundation and its Awards program:   

  • Inhumane, exploitative, or unlawful workplace practices, including but not limited to: 

    • Stealing of wages or tips 

    • Retaliation against workers who raise legitimate concerns 

  • Sexism, racism, or other discriminatory behavior, including but not limited to: 

    • Harassment 

    • Discriminatory or racist jokes and language  

    • Sharing of sexually explicit or violent material 

  • Violent or abusive behavior, including but not limited to:  

    • Threats of violence or violent behavior 

    • Bullying  

    • Improper use of social media to target persons or groups of people  

  • Misrepresentation of material facts, including fabrication, plagiarism, or false claims of ownership 

In addition, Entrants, Semifinalists, Nominees, and Winners must comply with all applicable federal and local laws, including those regarding fraud, bribery, corruption, assault, and child labor. 

A credible allegation of violating the Code of Ethics may disqualify an Entrant, Semifinalist, or Nominee from consideration for a JBF Award or result in a Semifinalist, Nominee, or Winner being prohibited from using the seal, logo, or image of the James Beard Awards and from claiming any recognition from the Foundation in connection with the Awards.  

At this time, the Foundation does not intend to rescind Awards that have been issued but reserves the right to do so in extraordinary circumstances.  

The James Beard Foundation does not affiliate with any partisan and/or religious groups, activities, and/or ideologies. Partisan and/or religious views of participants in any of our programs, including the James Beard Awards, do not reflect the views of the James Beard Foundation.


Independent Ethics Committee

In 2020, the Foundation took a year out of the Awards to consider how to do things better. We worked with outside experts and key stakeholders—including members of the Foundation’s Awards committees, which are made up of volunteers from within the broader food, restaurant, and media industries—to overhaul our policies and procedures. Following the audit we conducted in 2021, we prioritized the creation of a process to address alleged violations of our Awards Code of Ethics.

The JBF Board of Trustees established an Ethics Committee to review independently any alleged breach of the Code of Ethics by a James Beard Award Entrant, Semifinalist, or Nominee for the current Awards year (2023). 

The Ethics Committee reports and makes recommendations to the Governance Committee of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, and operates independently from the Awards Committee, subcommittee members, and the Foundation’s staff, including its Awards team.  

Given the Awards Program’s timing, the Ethics Committee is able to act on information related to a 2023 James Beard Award Entrant, Semifinalist, or Nominee only if received by the following dates: 

  • For the Restaurant and Chef Awards: May 1 
  • For the Media Awards: May 15 

For further context, the Ethics Committee’s review process focuses primarily on compliance with the Code of Ethics during the current Awards cycle (that is, the year preceding the Awards through the present).  However, behavior from earlier in time may warrant consideration, depending on its seriousness and the extent to which a candidate has remedied it.  

Note that the Foundation may disqualify or take other action against an Entrant, Semifinalist, Nominee, or Winner without publicly announcing the Foundation’s decision or making changes to any previously announced list of Semifinalists, Nominees, or Winners to reflect disqualification. 

Ethics Committee
  • Chair, Aaron Tidman, Director, Compliance & Investigations, Pinterest

  • Vice Chair, Michael McCray, Attorney; Founder, Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival 

  • Vice Chair, Susan Ringler, Former Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer, International Rescue Committee  

  • Luna Droubi, Partner, Beldock, Levine & Hoffman 

  • Ruth Faden, Founder and Wagley Professor of Biomedical Ethics, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, Johns Hopkins University 

  • Jim Mintz, Founder, Mintz Group 

How to Submit a Report
To report allegations involving a potential breach of the Code of Ethics by a 2023 James Beard Award Entrant, Semifinalist, Nominee, or Winner, please click here.

Review by Ethics Committee

  • Alleged breaches of the Foundation’s Code of Ethics are reviewed in the first instance by the Ethics Committee, an independent group of experts that reports directly to the Governance Committee of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees.
  • When the Ethics Committee receives a report alleging that a candidate has violated the Code of Ethics, the Committee directs outside counsel in gathering information. 
  • Although individuals may submit such a report to the Ethics Committee anonymously, the Committee does not make decisions based solely on reports, whether a reporter is anonymous or has self-identified. All allegations must be corroborated, whether through witness interviews, public records, or other documents. 
  • In any matter in which the Ethics Committee considers recommending that the Foundation take action, the Committee will direct outside counsel to contact the subject in order to provide the subject an opportunity to respond to the allegations against them.
  • The Ethics Committee’s review provides ample opportunity for both reporters as well as the subject of allegations to be fully heard.

Confidentiality of the Ethics Process Concerning Specific Cases

Our primary goal is protecting the integrity of the Awards program while being fair to those it seeks to celebrate. In fairness to all participants, we generally do not comment on particular cases, including why individuals do or do not move forward in the awards process.  

The Ethics Committee may disqualify or take other action against a candidate without publicly announcing the decision or making changes to any previously announced list.


Our Vetting Process

The mission of the James Beard Awards is to recognize exceptional talent and achievement in the culinary arts, hospitality, media, and broader food system, as well as a demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive.

The James Beard Foundation takes this mission—and its position as an industry leader—very seriously and strives to ensure that Award winners demonstrate excellence and align with its mission. As part of these efforts, the Foundation engages an external vetting consultant to review potential award nominees and flag anything inconsistent with the Foundation’s values. The results of this vetting process are reported to the Governance Committee of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees for review.

Should members of the public have concerns about a candidate for a James Beard Award they should report that information to the Foundation’s Independent Ethics Committee for investigation and review.

As stated above, the Awards Code of Ethics applies to all Entrants, Semifinalists, Nominees, and Winners, and its voting body.

With these processes now in place, we will continue to review ways to improve our method.