JBF Awards Policies and Procedures
A James Beard Foundation Award has become the most coveted honor in the world of food and beverage because of the sound policies and procedures with which they are administered.
Governance, Structure, and Operations
The Awards Committee of the James Beard Foundation determines policies and procedures for the James Beard Foundation Awards. 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: Books, Broadcast Media, Journalism, Design and Graphics, Restaurants and Chefs, and Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America, Lifetime Achievement and Humanitarian of the Year. 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 of which he or she is sitting on a committee during his or her year of service. (Though he or she may enter the competition of another awards program.)
Ballot tabulation for the James Beard Foundation Awards is handled by independent accounting firm Lutz and Carr. All results are final and are kept confidential until the Awards presentation ceremony.
The James Beard Foundation Awards are financed by the James Beard Foundation with partial underwriting ("sponsorship") provided by corporations, food product associations, and other contributors. Event and award sponsors neither vote nor influence the policies and procedures of the James Beard Foundation Awards. The James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards receive no outside corporate support and are financed solely by the James Beard Foundation to alleviate any intimation of bias or compromise of topics covered by the journalists.
The James Beard Foundation Awards calendar year runs May to May with an open call-to-entry beginning in mid-October. Semifinalists for the Restaurant and Chef Awards are announced in February. All Awards nominees are announced in March; winners are announced at the Awards Gala and at the Book, Journalism, and Broadcast Media Awards Dinner in May. Each award winner receives a certificate and a bronze medallion engraved with the James Beard Foundation Awards insignia. Winners receive a complimentary membership for one year to the James Beard Foundation. There are no cash awards.
The Awards were established in 1990 and the first ceremony was in 1991.
2012 Awards Committee
John Washko (Committee Chair)
Restaurant and Chef Awards
The Restaurant and Chef awards were established in 1990 by the James Beard Foundation.2012 Restaurant and Chef Awards Committee
Brett Anderson, Times-Picayune
Michael Bauer, San Francisco Chronicle
Providence Cicero (Chair)
Alison Cook, Houston Chronicle
James Oliver Cury, Hearst Magazines Digital Group
John T. Edge, Center for the Study of Southern Culture
Victoria Pesce Elliot, The Miami Herald
Cheryl Alters Jamison
Kate Krader, Food & Wine
Corby Kummer, The Atlantic
Christiane Lauterbach, Atlanta Magazine/Knife & Fork
Rick Nelson, Star Tribune
James Oseland, Saveur
Tom Sietsema, Washington Post
Phil Vettel, Chicago Tribune
Irene Virbila, Los Angeles TimesNominee Selection and Judging
Anyone can submit a chef or restaurant for consideration during the online open call for entries in the fall. There is no entry fee.
The Restaurant and Chef Awards Committee produces a ballot with approximately 20 semifinalists in each category. This ballot is distributed online to a voting body of 308 previous James Beard Restaurant & Chef Award winners; 200 to 250 panelists divided evenly among 10 regions (see below); and 17 members of the Restaurant and Chef Award subcommittee. All votes count equally and are tabulated by the independent accounting firm Lutz & Carr.
The 20 semifinalists in each category are announced in mid-February. A ballot goes out electronically to the judges, and the 5 nominees in each category are announced in March. A second ballot is then distributed to the same voting body. Winners are announced at the Awards ceremony in May.Criteria for Specific Awards
A working restaurateur who sets high national standards in restaurant operations and entrepreneurship. Candidates must have been in the restaurant business for at least 10 years. Candidates must not have been nominated for a James Beard Foundation chef award in the past 10 years.
Outstanding Chef (Presented by All-Clad Metalcrafters)
A working chef in America whose career has set national industry standards and who has served as an inspiration to other food professionals. Eligible candidates must have been working as a chef for the past five years.
A restaurant in the United States that serves as a national standard bearer of consistent quality and excellence in food, atmosphere and service. Eligible restaurants must have been in operation 10 or more consecutive years. The owner of the restaurant receives the award.
Rising Star Chef of the Year (Presented by Jade Range)
A chef age 30 or younger who displays an impressive talent and who is likely to make a significant impact on the industry in years to come.
Best New Restaurant (Presented by Mercedes-Benz)
A restaurant opened in the calendar year before the award will be given that already displays excellence in food, beverage, and service, and that is likely to make a significant impact in years to come. The owner of the restaurant receives the award.
Outstanding Pastry Chef
A chef or baker who prepares desserts, pastries, or breads, and who serves as a national standard bearer of excellence.
Outstanding Service (Presented by Stella Artois)
A restaurant in operation five or more years that demonstrates high standards of hospitality and service. The owner of the restaurant receives the award.
Outstanding Wines & Spirits Professional (Presented by Southern Wine and Spirits)
A winemaker, brewer, or spirits professional who has made a significant national impact on the wines and spirits industry.
Outstanding Wine Program
A restaurant in operation five or more years that serves as a standard bearer for excellence in wine service through a well-presented wine list, knowledgeable staff, and efforts to educate customers about wine. The sommelier or wine director receives the award. The sommelier or wine director accepts the award for the restaurant.
Outstanding Bar Program (Presented by Campari)
A restaurant or bar that demonstrates excellence in cocktail, spirits and/or beer service. The bartender or mixologist accepts the award for the restaurant
Best Chefs (10 Regions)
Chefs who have set new or consistent standards of excellence in their respective regions. Eligible candidates may be from any kind of dining establishment and must have been working as a chef for at least five years with the three most recent years spent in the region.The Regions
Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH)
Mid-Atlantic (D.C., DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA)
Midwest (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, WI)
New York City (Five Boroughs)
Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, NY State, RI, VT)
Northwest (AK, ID, MT, OR, WA, WY)
Pacific (CA, HI)
South (AL, AR, FL, LA, MS)
Southeast (GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV)
Southwest (AZ, CO, NM, NV, OK, TX, UT)
America's Classics (Presented by Coca-Cola)
A restaurant with timeless appeal, beloved in its region for quality food that reflects the character of its community. The establishment must have been in existence at least 10 years and be locally owned; preferably it is also informal and moderately priced.
Each year, five winners are chosen by the Restaurant and Chef Awards Commitee. Winners are announced at the Nominees Breakfast in March.
Book Awards (Presented by Green & Black’s® Organic Chocolate)
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 1990.2012 Book Awards Committee
Matt Sartwell (Committee Chair)
Grace YoungNominee Selection and Judging
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 10 categories: American Cooking, Baking and Dessert, Beverage, Cooking from a Professional Point of View, General Cooking, Healthy Focus, International, Single Subject, Reference and Scholarship, and Writing and Literature. There is a $100 entry fee for JBF members, $135 for non-members.
Four judges are assigned to each category. The judges (more than 50 in total) are not committee members; rather, they’re editors, authors, journalists, and culinary educators who have not published a culinary book during the current Awards year.
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 Cookbook of the Year from among the nominated books in each category. From among the books submitted for nomination, an award is given for Outstanding Photography. 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 at a Nominees Breakfast in March. The winners are announced during the Book, Journalism, and Broadcast Media Awards Dinner in May. The author(s) of the book receive(s) the award.
The Journalism Awards were established by the James Beard Foundation in 1992.2012 Journalism Awards Committee
Dorothy Kalins (Committee Chair)
Vikki PorterNominee Selection and Judging
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. There is a $100 entry fee for JBF members, $135 for non-members.
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 80 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 three nominees in each category are announced at a Nominees Breakfast in March. The winners are announced during the Book, Journalism, and Broadcast Media Awards Dinner in May. The journalist(s) receive(s) the award.
Restaurant Design and Restaurant Graphics Awards
The Restaurant Design and Restaurant Graphics Awards were established by the James Beard Foundation in 1994.2012 Restaurant Design and Restaurant Graphic Awards Committee
Brooke Hodge (Committee Chair)
Lucille TenazasNominee Selection and Judging
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. There is a $100 entry fee for JBF members, $135 for non-members.
The Restaurant Design and Graphics 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 at a Nominees Breakfast in March. The winners are announced during the Awards Ceremony in May. The architect(s) or designer(s) receive(s) the award.
Broadcast and New Media Awards (Presented by Lenox)
The Broadcast and New Media Awards were established in 1993 by the James Beard Foundation.2012 Broadcast Media Awards Committee
Emerald Yeh (Committee Chair)Nominee Selection and Judging
Any English-language TV, radio, or webcast show or segment on food, cooking, or gastronomy, copyrighted and broadcast in the United States or Canada during the previous calendar year is eligible. Producers, writers, hosts, and other people involved in the production submit their work for consideration. There is a $100 entry fee. There is a $100 entry fee for JBF members, $135 for non-members.
The Broadcast and New Media Awards Committee divides the entries into categories making sure that they are entered in the correct categories, then five to six judges are assigned to each category. The judges (more than 30 in total) are chosen by the committee. They include producers, educators, editors, and print journalists. Judges may not enter the category they are judging during current year. They are looking for creativity, accuracy, high production values, and a fresh perspective on food- and beverage-related topics.
The nominees are announced at a Nominees Breakfast in March. The winners are announced during the Book, Journalism, and Broadcast Media Awards Dinner in May. The host(s) or producer(s) receive(s) the award.
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 1990.2012 Who’s Who Committee
Robert del Grande
Barbara Haber (Committee Chair)
Zanne StewartNominee Selection and Judging
Any food or beverage industry professional who has made a significant contribution to the industry is eligible for induction. The current members of the Who’s Who are invited to submit names for consideration. From the submissions, the Who’s Who Committee creates a nominating ballot and the entire Who’s Who group votes on the inductees for each year. They are looking for unique and long-lasting contribution to the field for at least a decade, with a national impact. The inductees are announced the Awards ceremony in May.
Lifetime Achievement and Humanitarian of the Year Awards
The Awards Committee selects the Lifetime Achievement and Humanitarian award recipients. They are announced at the Nominees Breakfast in March.
- What are the James Beard Foundation Awards?
- The James Beard Foundation Awards, aka the Beard Awards, are the food industry’s highest honor. Awards are given in many categories, including chefs and restaurants, books, journalism, broadcast media, and restaurant design and graphics, as well as for special achievements. Time magazine called them “the Oscars of the food world.” Find out more about the JBF Awards >>>
- Who are the judges?
- The judges for the awards are selected by the governing committee for each awards category. For example, the Book Awards Committee selects the judges for the book awards. The judges choose the winners by reviewing the entries and voting with secret ballots. The judges are all experts in their fields who may not enter their awards category during the year they are judging. (Judges may, however, enter awards categories they are not judging.) The judging process is overseen by an independent accounting firm.
- Who enters?
- Fortunately, the reputation of the Beard Awards means that we get thousands of entries from across the country. Anyone can enter. Each awards category, such as journalism or books, is administered in a slightly different way consistent with other awards in the field. This means that the entry process, requirements, and deadlines vary from one category to the next. But the process for each category begins on our website, where entry details and forms are posted in mid October for the following year’s awards. See Awards entry details >>>
- 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, and ticket and advertising sales are intended to cover the cost of the Awards program, which includes fees for the independent auditors, administrative costs for the judging, the costs for the production of the ceremony, and the costs associated with the reception.
- Can you win a James Beard Foundation Award if you haven’t participated in a James Beard Foundation event?
- Absolutely. Every step is taken to assure 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, nor are trustees. And although we are extremely grateful to everyone who participates in our events, those events are in no way related to the awards process. Also, you do not need to be a James Beard Foundation member to receive a nomination or win an award. In fact, some of our highest honors have been received by chefs who have never joined the Foundation or participated in a Foundation event.
- Is there anything an entrant can do to increase his or her chances of winning?
- Besides performing to the best of his or her abilities, there’s nothing anyone can do to affect the outcome of an award. We hear stories of people campaigning for various awards but our procedures are overseen by an independent accounting firm and are not susceptible to outside influence.
- 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 statement of conflict of interest that states that they or their relatives will not be eligible for an award.
- What about staff?
- No way. As with the trustees, all management and staff sign a conflict of interest statement that states that they or their relatives will not be eligible for an award.
- Can sponsors affect the outcome?
- Absolutely not. Sponsors do not take part in judging.
- What do James Beard Foundation Award winners receive?
- Bragging rights, a handsome medal, an impressive certificate, a lot of publicity, and the satisfaction of having been recognized by your peers. There are no cash awards.