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Leah Chase to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award; Father Gregory Boyle, S.J. is Humanitarian of the Year

JBF Editors

January 28, 2016

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2016 James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement award recipient Leah Chase

The James Beard Foundation is thrilled to announce the recipients of its 2016 Lifetime Achievement and Humanitarian of the Year awards. Both honorees will accept their Beard medallions at the James Beard Awards on Monday, May 2, at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

This year’s Lifetime Achievement award will go to chef, restaurateur, television personality, and “Queen of Creole Cuisine” Leah Chase, whose New Orleans restaurant, Dooky Chase’s, pioneered Creole cooking in the United States and made dishes like jambalaya, gumbo, and fried chicken into kitchen staples. In a town deeply divided by segregation, Dooky Chase’s, which is still open today, was one of the only public places in New Orleans where mixed race groups could meet to discuss strategy for the local Civil Rights Movement. Chase is also a patron of the arts, and her collection, displayed on the walls of the restaurant, was at one time considered the city’s best collection of African-American art. 

2016 James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year award recipient Father Greg Boyle, S.J.

Father Greg Boyle, S.J., founder and executive director of Homeboy Industries, the largest gang-intervention, rehabilitation, and re-entry program in the world, will receive the 2016 Humanitarian of the Year award. A Jesuit priest, Father Boyle has dedicated his life to helping those in need. In 1992, in the aftermath of the civil unrest in Los Angeles, he launched Homeboy Bakery, where former rival gang members worked side by side and learned both business and baking skills. Its success laid the groundwork for additional social enterprises within the Homeboy brand, including Homegirl Café & Catering, Homeboy Diner in Los Angeles City Hall, and a retail presence at Los Angeles–area farmers’ markets. Every year more than ten thousand formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women come through Homeboy Industries’s doors.

The James Beard Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement award is bestowed upon a person in the industry whose lifetime body of work has had a positive and long-lasting impact on the way we eat, cook, and think about food in America. The Humanitarian of the Year award is given to an individual or organization whose work in the realm of food has improved the lives of others and benefited society at large.

Read more about these James Beard Award recipients in our official press release. Learn more about the 2016 James Beard Awards