Update to Policies and Procedures
Read more about the changes to the 2021 Awards here.
The following policies and procedures are from the 2020 James Beard Awards. Sign up for the Awards newsletter for updates.
Governance, Structure, and Operations
The Awards Committee of the James Beard Foundation oversees the administration of the James Beard Awards, determining policies and procedures for the smooth operation of the program. The volunteer committee consists of the chairperson of each individual Awards program, members of the Foundation's Board of Trustees, and members at large.
The James Beard Foundation Awards consist of six separate recognition programs and two special achievement awards: Book, Broadcast Media, Journalism, Restaurant Design, Restaurant and Chef, Leadership, Lifetime Achievement, and Humanitarian of the Year Awards. Each program is administered by an independent volunteer committee whose members serve staggered terms of one to three years. Each committee chairperson reports to the Awards Committee. A committee member is ineligible to enter the awards competition of the program for which he or serves on a committee during his or her year of service. (Though he or she may enter the competition of another awards program.)
Starting in 2019, the James Beard Awards open call for entry will begin on the first of October every year. Committees meet after deadlines close to the review the entries, confirm eligibility, and in some cases, make the first cut. Judges chosen by the committee then review and vote on the entries to determine the semifinalists, nominees and winners.
Semifinalists for the Restaurant and Chef Awards are announced in late February. All Awards nominees (finalists) are announced in late March. Winners are announced at the Media Awards Dinner and James Beard Awards Gala in April and May, respectively.
Each award winner receives a certificate and a silver medallion engraved with the James Beard Foundation Awards insignia. Winners receive a complimentary professional membership for one year to the James Beard Foundation. Leadership Award honorees will receive a $10,000 prize that can be donated to a nonprofit organization of their choice. No other James Beard Awards carry cash prizes.
2020 Awards Committee
Bill Addison, Restaurant Critic, The Los Angeles Times
James Biber, Founder, Biber Architects
Hsiao-Ching Chou, Communications Consultant and Author of Chinese Soul Food, Chou Communications, LLC
Tanya Holland, Author, Chef, Owner, Brown Sugar Kitchen
Nicolas Jammet, Co-Founder, Sweetgreen
John Kessler, Author and Journalist
Emily Luchetti, Pastry Chef, Big Night Restaurant Group
François-Olivier Luigi, General Manager, The Pierre, A Taj Hotel
Anne McBride, Deputy Director, Torribera Mediterranean Center
Richy Petrina, Director, Private & Corporate, Moet Hennessy
Anne Quatrano (Committee Chair), Restauranteur/Chef, Bacchanalia, Star Provisions, Floataway Café, W.H. Stiles Fish Camp
Ken Rubin, Chief Culinary Officer, Rouxbe Online Culinary School
Toni Tipton-Martin, Author and Journalist
Andrea Weigl, Producer, Markay Media
Emerald Yeh, Television Journalist
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.
The Awards Committee selects the Lifetime Achievement recipient and, if an outstanding candidate warrants it, the Humanitarian Award recipient. These winners are announced in March. The Lifetime Achievement Award is given to an individual whose lifetime body of work has had a positive and long-lasting impact on the way we eat, cook, and/or think about food in America. The Humanitarian of the Year award is given to an individual or organization working in the realm of food who has given selflessly and worked tirelessly to better the lives of others and society at large.
James Beard Award Programs
Restaurant and Chef Awards
The Restaurant and Chef awards were established in 1990 by the James Beard Foundation.
2020 Restaurant and Chef Awards Committee
Bill Addison, Restaurant Critic, The Los Angeles Times
Tina Antolini, Independent Audio Producer
Evan Benn, Director of Special Projects & Editorial Events, The Philadelphia Inquirer
Jennifer V. Cole, Freelance Writer and Editor
Alison Cook, Restaurant Critic, Houston Chronicle
Adam Erace, Food and Travel Writer
Patricia Escarcega, Restaurant Critic, The Los Angeles Times
Amanda Faison, Freelance Food Writer and Cookbook Editor
Devra First (Chair), Food Writer and Restaurant Critic, Boston Globe
Ian Froeb, Restaurant Critic, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
David Hagedorn, Restaurant Critic, Arlington Magazine and Bethesda Magazine
Joseph Hernandez, Research Director, Bon Appétit
Kate Krader, Food Editor, Bloomberg
Adrian Miller, The Soul Food Scholar
Hanna Raskin, Food Editor and Critic, The Post and Courier
Jordana Rothman, Food Writer
Lauren Saria, Dining Editor, The Arizona Republic
Khushbu Shah, Restaurant Editor, Food & Wine
Allecia Vermillion, Editor in Chief, Seattle Met Magazine
Chris Ying, Head of Creative, Majordomo Media
Nominee Selection and Judging
Call for recommendations starts the first of October each year. We encourage all to submit a recommendation for a chef or restaurant for consideration. Recommendations will be reviewed by the committee for consideration when creating the ballot of semifinalists. They are not official nominations. There is no entry fee.
Taking into consideration the public and regional panelists’ recommendations, the Restaurant and Chef Awards Committee produces a ballot with approximately 20 semifinalists in each category. These semifinalists are announced in late February. This ballot is distributed online to a voting body comprised of over 300 previous James Beard Restaurant & Chef Award winners; over 250 panelists divided evenly among the award regions; and the 18 members of the Restaurant and Chef Award subcommittee. All votes count equally and are tabulated by the independent accounting firm. The five semifinalists with the highest number of votes become the nominees.
The nominees in each category are announced in late March. A second ballot with the nominees is then distributed to the same voting body to determine the winners. Winners are announced at the Awards ceremony in May.
Criteria for Restaurant and Chef Awards
The James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant and Chef Awards honor members of the American food, beverage, and hospitality industries who demonstrate excellence in their respective fields. Winners show exceptional talent and creativity in their craft and commendable leadership among their colleagues and peers. The James Beard Foundation is dedicated to promoting a strong, safe, inclusive, ethical food community, and these awards reflect those values.
In an effort to remain current with the constantly evolving restaurant demographics across the country, every few years the James Beard Foundation takes a deeper look at how its awards regions are distributed. After an in-depth analysis of population and restaurant density data performed with the help of outside data consultants, the awards regions have been redistributed for 2020 and going forward. More information about redistricting can be found here.
Restaurant Design Awards
The Restaurant Design Awards were established by the James Beard Foundation in 1994.
2020 Restaurant Design Awards Committee
James Biber (Chair), Founder, Biber Architects
Annie Block, Deputy Editor, Interior Design Magazine
Casey Jones, Principal, Perkins+Will
Dung Ngo, Editor-in-chief and Publisher, August Journal and August Editions
Chee Pearlman, Design Curator, TED Conferences
Any restaurant or design project that was completed or redone in North America within three years prior to the year the award is being given is eligible. Architects, interior designers, and graphic designers submit their projects for consideration.
The Restaurant Design Awards Committee is made up of architects, interior designers, and graphic designers. The committee both chooses the jurors who will judge the winners and oversees the process. They are looking for beautiful functional design that seamlessly melds the setting and theme of the restaurant environment.
The nominees are announced in March. The winners are announced during the Awards Ceremony in May. The design firm receives the award.
The Book Awards that are administered by the James Beard Foundation were started in 1966 by French’s Mustard as the R. T. French Tastemaker Awards. They were administered briefly and in turn by Duncan Hines, Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, and the International Association of Culinary Professionals. The James Beard Foundation took them into the fold in 1990.
2019 Book Awards Committee
Scott Alves Barton, Food Studio Professor/Chef, NYU
Hsiao-Ching Chou (Chair), Communications Consultant and Author of Chinese Soul Food, Chou Communications, LLC
Jennifer Colliau, Owner, Small Hand Foods
Mihir Desai, Senior Editor, New Republic
Carol Mighton Haddix, Freelance Food Editor and Writer
Robynne Maii, Executive Chef-Partner, Fête
Laurie Ochoa, Arts and Entertainment Editor, Los Angeles Times
Carolyn Phillips, Author, Artist, and Food Scholar
Marc Schermerhorn, President’s Circle, Culinary Arts, Art Institute of Seattle
Any book published in English in the United States or Canada during the previous calendar year is eligible for an award. Publishers, editors, and authors submit their books for consideration in one of the Book Award categories. The categories may change slightly each year to reflect trends in publishing.
Four judges are assigned to each category. The judges are chosen by committee members and consist of editors, authors, journalists, and culinary educators who have not contributed to a culinary book in the category they are judging during the current Awards year. Book categories are reassigned by the committee if they see fit.
Judges are looking for books that contribute to the growing canon of information and knowledge about food and beverage. Content, accuracy, design, and writing style are among the elements considered.
The Book Awards Committee selects the Book of the Year from among the book nominees in each category. Each year the committee also inducts a classic cookbook or an author’s body of work into the Cookbook Hall of Fame.
The nominees are announced in March. The winners are announced during the Media Awards Dinner in April. The author(s) or photographer of the book receive(s) the award.
Broadcast Media Awards
The Broadcast Media Awards were established in 1993 by the James Beard Foundation.
2020 Broadcast Media Awards Committee
Cynthia Graubart, Cookbook Author
Deborah Mitchell, Founder/CEO, Deborah Mitchell Media Associates
Kevin Pang, Consultant, M. Harris & Co
Raghavan Iyer, Author, Consultant, and Spokesperson
Ken Rubin (Chair), Chief Culinary Officer, Rouxbe Online Culinary School
Diane Worthington, Syndicated Columnist and Cookbook Author
Emerald Yeh, Television Journalist
Any English-language TV, radio, documentary, or webcast show or segment on food, cooking, or gastronomy, appearing widely for the first time in North America during the previous calendar year is eligible. Producers, reporters, writers, hosts, and other people involved in the production submit their work for consideration.
The Broadcast Media Awards Committee divides the entries into appropriate categories, with five to six judges assigned to each category. The judges chosen by the committee. They include producers, educators, editors, and print journalists. Judges may not enter the category they are judging during the current Awards year. They are looking for content, originality, high production values, and a fresh perspective on food- and beverage-related topics.
The nominees are announced in March. The winners are announced during the Media Awards Dinner in April. The host(s), reporter(s), or show receive(s) the award.
The Journalism Awards were established by the James Beard Foundation in 1992.
2020 Journalism Awards Committee
Gustavo Arellano, Feature Reporter, Los Angeles Times
Patricia Calhoun, Editor, Westword Newspaper/westword.com
John Kessler, Author and Journalist
Ren LaForme, Digital Tools Reporter, The Poynter Institute
Tracie McMillan, Independent Journalist and Author, The American Way of Eating
Kim O'Donnel, Food Writer and Cookbook Author
Chandra Ram, Editor, Plate
Jamila Robinson (Chair), Food Editor, Philadelphia Inquirer
John Willoughby, Author and Editor
Any article that was published in English in the United States or Canada during the previous calendar year is eligible. Writers, journalists, and editors submit their articles for consideration.
The judges, who are selected by the Journalism Awards Committee, comprise working editors, journalists (not covering food and beverage topics), retired food and beverage editors and writers, and deans and professors of leading journalism colleges. The judges (more than 100 in total) may not enter in the category that they are judging during the current Awards year.
The judges are looking for accurate, insightful reporting, exceptional writing, unusual perspectives, and other attributes of fine journalism as they pertain to food and beverage topics.
The nominees are announced in March. The winners are announced during the Media Awards Dinner in April. The journalist(s) receive(s) the award.
The James Beard Foundation’s Leadership Awards spotlight the important and complex realms of sustainability, food justice, and public health. They raise awareness of these timely issues by celebrating the visionaries responsible for creating a healthier, safer, and more equitable and sustainable food system.
All JBF Award winners receive a certificate and a medallion engraved with the James Beard Foundation Awards insignia. In addition to the certificate and medallion, each of this year’s Leadership Award honorees will receive a $10,000 prize that can be donated to a nonprofit organization of their choice. No other James Beard Awards carry cash prizes.
2020 Leadership Awards Committee
Anne McBride (Chair), Deputy Director, Torribera Mediterranean Center
Dara Cooper, National Organizer, National Black Food and Justice Alliance
Zoe Feldman, Senior Director, New Ventures, Chobani
Danielle Nierenberg, President, Food Tank: The Think Tank for Food
Ricardo Salvador, Director and Senior Scientist, Food & Environment, Union of Concerned Scientists
Sean Sherman, CEO/Founder, The Sioux Chef/NATIFS.org
Anyone may enter their recommendation for the Leadership Awards. Additional recommendations are solicited from previous Leadership Award honorees.
The committee reviews recommendations to create a ballot of top nominees. Previous Leadership Award honorees, 15 judges selected by the committee and the Awards Committee vote. The Leadership Awards recognize specific outstanding initiatives as well as bodies of work and lifetime achievement. Excellence of work, innovation in approach, and scale of impact within a community or the nation are among the criteria used to select the recipients. The results from the vote are reviewed by the committee to confirm the final slate of honorees, which is announced in a press release in April. The separate Leadership Awards ceremony and dinner is held in Chicago during the James Beard Awards weekend in May.