Stories / Awards, Foundation News

Behind Our Decision to Change the 2020 Awards

JBF Editors

September 02, 2020


James Beard Awards medallion photo Kent Miller Studios
Photo: Kent Miller Studios

The James Beard Awards will take place on September 25, with a virtual event that will recognize the final 2020 nominees; Leadership Award honorees, Lifetime Achievement and Humanitarian of the Year Award winners, and other previously announced winners will receive their awards. The broadcast will focus on highlighting the challenges the industry faces and will feature an industry roundtable discussion about the opportunities to build back stronger and more equitable.

We’d like to clarify some misunderstandings around the decision not to hand out the remaining Restaurant and Chef awards:

  • The decision not to hand out the remaining awards this year was not based on the results of the voting in May.
  • Since the nominations were first announced in May, some nominees withdrew because of the current crisis in the industry or for other personal reasons, and some were determined to be ineligible. Therefore, the Committee decided that it would be more appropriate to conduct a revote among the remaining nominees. Because of the Foundation’s decision not to name additional winners, the revote never began.
  • The final decision to refrain from handing out awards in mid-August was based on a growing sentiment among some of the remaining nominees, a number of committee members, and Foundation leadership that, given the crises that this industry is facing, naming winners and non-winners would not be an appropriate way to meet this moment.

It remains the Foundation’s position that celebrating all of the nominees on September 25 is the best decision we could make. The conversations we have had in the past two weeks with nominees about this decision and about the work the Foundation is doing have been supportive. We are hopeful that together we can have a positive impact on the future of this industry.

In terms of the Awards’ future, we have begun a comprehensive audit of every aspect of the Awards process. The Foundation is committed to examining how we can redefine the criteria for “excellence” and transform the Awards into a force for equity in the industry. We will do this with the utmost transparency and will provide regular updates on this process to our many stakeholders.

In the meantime, we will continue to focus the Foundation’s time and resources on helping the industry move forward through our non-Awards initiatives. We believe the best work we can do is to help independent restaurants survive this crisis, rebuild better, and thrive for the long term through grants for businesses, education and resources, mentorship programs, and advocacy.

Learn more about the James Beard Awards.

Help independent restaurants #openforgood.