Contact Information

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Awards Process General Information

Who is the voting body?
The voting body for the Awards comprises experts in their fields selected by the subcommittee for each Awards program. For example, the Book Awards subcommittee selects the judges for the Book Awards from a national pool of authors, editors, and other professionals in the publishing field who do not have books up for Awards during the year and in the category that they are judging. The judges review the entries and vote with ballots and judging forms. The ballots are then tallied by an independent accounting firm. Per the audit recommendations, an alphabetically sorted list of all judges will be added to the Awards webpages following the Award program ceremonies in June.

Who can enter?
The Awards are open to any and all entrants who meet the qualifications of each program. The James Beard Awards committee and subcommittee members acknowledge and welcome entries and entrants from all backgrounds who represent the true diversity of talent that exists in the culinary and food media landscape. 

When are the Open Call for Entry and Recommendations, and how do I enter? 

The Open Call for Entry and Recommendations opens in early October and the period closes in late November. Visit the Awards landing page for specific dates.  

Click here to enter the Awards during the open call period.

What is the Open Call for Entry versus Open Call for Recommendations? 
The Open Calls are solicitations for applications or recommendations for the five Awards programs.

  • The Open Call for Entry is for the Media Awards: Book, Broadcast Media, and Journalism Awards programs, where candidates enter their work. There is a $75 fee to enter the Media Awards. However, entrants may request a fee waiver if there is a financial need during the entire entry period, to provide more access to the program.
  • The Open Call for Recommendations are for both the Leadership and Restaurant and Chef Awards programs, where candidates, other industry members, and the general public may enter chefs and restaurants for consideration. There is no entry fee for the two programs.  

How do I know if I'm eligible? 
We receive thousands of entries from across the United States (and beyond, for certain Award programs). The eligibility requirements are different for each Awards program. Please review the programs’ eligibility criteria and a list of categories for the current Awards cycle found on the policies page.  

How does the James Beard Awards define Excellence and Leadership? 

  • Excellence: the intersection of exceptional talent and achievement in one’s craft and a demonstrated commitment to promoting the Foundation’s values of equity, transparency, respect, integrity, community, and passion. 
  • Leadership: through their work, someone who is paving the way and providing space for others to create a sustainable and equitable independent restaurant industry, while also giving voice to such efforts through writing or other forms of media. 

What is the alignment statement? 
As part of the Call for Entry and Recommendations process, all entrants (and those making recommendations) are required to provide a short write-up or audio/visual recording reflecting on the James Beard Awards Mission and the James Beard Foundation’s Values, and how the entrant expresses them in their work. It is also an opportunity for candidates (or those making recommendations) to tell their story and purpose. Detailed instructions are offered in the Open Call for Entry/Recommendations online forms. Please visit our policy page where you will find links to Eligibility documents for each program.

Will the Foundation change its vetting process for the Awards programs?
No. The Foundation will continue to screen semifinalists, nominees, and winners using an external consultant.

How are the Awards financed? 
The Awards are a program of the James Beard Foundation, which means the trustees of the Foundation have overall fiduciary responsibility for them. Sponsorship, entry fees, Awards ceremony ticket sales, and advertising sales are intended to cover the cost of the Awards program, which includes fees for the independent auditors, administrative costs for the Awards program, and the ceremony and auxiliary event production costs. Net revenues from the Awards go towards funding the Foundation’s portfolio of programs and initiatives that support the industry.  

Can you win a James Beard Foundation Award if you haven’t participated in a James Beard Foundation event?
Yes. Every step is taken to ensure that the Awards are open to all eligible candidates and administered fairly. James Beard Foundation staff members are not allowed to vote on the Awards. Trustees do not vote, except in limited circumstances, such as special Awards, where the Trustee is a member of the Awards Committee, as per the Awards Charter. And although we are extremely grateful to everyone who participates in our events, those events are in no way related to the Awards process.

Is there anything an entrant can do to increase their chances of winning?
Besides performing to the best of their abilities, and demonstrating alignment to the Foundation’s values, there's nothing an entrant can do to affect the outcome of an Award. Our Awards are voted on by committee members and judges; number of recommendations entered does not influence the results.

Are James Beard Foundation trustees eligible for an Award?
No. James Beard Foundation Trustees are not eligible to win a James Beard Foundation Award (nor can they influence the voting in any way). Trustees must sign a conflict-of-interest statement that affirms that they or their relatives, or any business in which they are a majority partner will not be eligible for an Award.

What about staff?
No. As with the trustees, all management and staff sign a conflict-of-interest statement that affirms that they or their relatives, or any business in which they are a majority partner will not be eligible for an Award. 

The James Beard Foundation Staff, including the Awards Team, does not vote, vet, or influence any outcomes of the Awards.

Is the Foundation’s public relations firm subject to any Awards restrictions?
Yes. Wagstaff Media & Marketing employees who provide services to the Foundation may not assist candidates or entrants in creating, advising on, reviewing or submitting any entries, applications or other materials required for Awards consideration. However, Wagstaff employees who do not provide services to the Foundation may assist their clients with drafting applications. Where a Wagstaff employee has provided services to the Foundation and a potential Awards candidate or entrant, such employee will re-assign their non-Foundation client work to another Wagstaff team member.

Who gets to see the results of the Awards? 
The Foundation engages an independent accounting firm to tally votes. With the exception of committee-chosen Awards, no one sees the results except for an external fact checker, third-party vetting consultant, and a very limited number of personnel related strictly to the production of the Awards a limited number of days before the ceremony. All are required to sign an NDA.

Can sponsors affect the outcome?
No. Sponsors do not take part in judging or determining any Awards policies.

How will JBF address allegations against future potential winners, and will JBF rescind previous winners’ awards if allegations have been made against them?  
For information on the James Beard Awards Code of Ethics and the Ethics process, please visit the Awards Code of Ethics page.

What do James Beard Foundation Award winners receive?
Winners receive a medallion, a certificate reflecting the winning entrant, and recognition on the James Beard website. The Humanitarian of the Year honoree also receives a $20,000 prize to further the honoree’s work, kindly funded by the Michael Phillips Humanitarian Fund. 

All Awards program semifinalists, nominees, and winners must comply with the James Beard Awards usage marks and guidelines.

What are the plans for the 2023 Awards?
All three Awards ceremonies will occur the first weekend in June in Chicago and the dates are below. Event details and location information will be updated on the Awards events page when that information is available. News about the Awards will be regularly updated and posted to and on the Foundation’s social channels (@beardfoundation on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #jbfa).  

  • Media Awards: June 3, 2023 
  • Leadership Awards: June 4, 2023 
  • Restaurant and Chef Awards: June 5, 2023 

James Beard Awards 2021 Audit Recommendations 

The James Beard Foundation announced in August 2020 that the James Beard Awards were undergoing an audit of policies and procedures. The audit took place between August 2020 and August 2021. The audit outcomes were announced in September 2021. To read more about the audit, goals, recommendations, and initial outcomes as of 2022, visit here.

Will there be further changes to the Awards process? 
The Foundation and the Awards committee and subcommittee members will continue to assess, debrief, learn, and refine areas in the Awards process to continuously improve the program for the communities it serves. This process is ongoing, and policies and procedures will be reviewed every year. 

Historical Information

What are the James Beard Awards?
The James Beard Awards recognizes 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. Established in 1990, the James Beard Awards are among the nation’s most prestigious honors recognizing leaders in the culinary and food media industries. The Awards are overseen by the Awards Committee. Each Awards program (Books, Broadcast Media, Journalism, Leadership, and Restaurant and Chef) has its own subcommittee members who volunteer their time to oversee the policies, procedures, and selection of judges for their respective program. All James Beard Award winners receive a certificate and a medallion engraved with the James Beard Foundation Awards insignia. 

When did the James Beard Awards start?
The James Beard Awards were established in 1990; the first ceremony took place in 1991. 

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. In light of new directives for inclusion and diversity, in 2018 the Who’s Who award was retired. Extant members at that time were memorialized and archived on the James Beard Foundation website.

Restaurant Design Awards
The first Restaurant Design Awards were given out in 1995 as an Awards program with categories such as Outstanding Restaurant Design and Design Icon. The program was retired after the 2020 Awards. 

Awards Event General Information

Where can I find information on the Awards event and the broadcast?
Visit the Awards events page for relevant event details, including broadcast information, and to sign up for the Awards newsletter for updates.

I'm a journalist who wants to cover the James Beard Awards. Who should I contact?
For press-related inquiries, please visit the Awards contact page

Can I volunteer at the Awards?
If you’re interested in becoming an event volunteer, please complete the following form.


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James Beard Foundation reserves the right to update and make changes that do not affect the integrity of the Awards and its operating procedures.