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Let’s Drink to That!

James Beard Foundation launches new beverage committee

Mitchell Davis

January 17, 2019

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Cocktails Photo Jeff Gurwin
Photo: Jeff Gurwin

As the James Beard Foundation continues to find ways to achieve our vision of a world in which everyone has access to more sustainable, more wholesome, and more delicious food, we are looking for opportunities to interact and connect with the larger culinary community. No one can deny the integral role that beverages of all kinds play in the enjoyment of food. But we don’t always stop to think of how beverages themselves are food, in as much as they are agricultural products that provide both nourishment and joy, and are expressions of culture and craft. And everyone in the business knows that beverage sales sustain the restaurant industry.

To deepen our engagement with the beverage industry, the Beard Foundation has inaugurated a new Beverage Industry Advisory Committee comprised of a broad and diverse cross-section of professionals in the field. Representing various sectors—from craft brewing and distilling, to sommeliers and mixologists, to grandes maisons de Champagne and natural wine producers—these folks have agreed to help us think strategically and creatively about how to better integrate beverages into all of the Foundation’s programming, including events, awards, educational programs, sustainability initiatives, gender equality, and access and equity directives.  

Introducing the inaugural Beverage Industry Advisory Committee:

  • Gillian Balance, Senior Educator Americas, Treasury Wine Estates
  • Tiffanie Barriere, The Drinking Coach
  • Neal Bodenheimer, Owner, Cure and Cane & Table/Co-chair, Tales of the Cocktail Foundation
  • Mark Bright, Wine Director & Co-Founder, Saison Hospitality Group
  • Sam Calagione, JBF Award Winner, Founder/Brewer, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
  • Belinda Chang, Founder, Belinda Chang LLC
  • Jenny Lefcourt, Owner, Jenny & Francois Selections
  • Ann Marshall, JBF Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership Fellow, Co-Founder, High Wire Distilling
  • Jim Meehan, JBF Award Winner, Mixography, Inc.
  • Richy Petrina, Private Client Director, Moët-Hennessy USA
  • Stephen Satterfeld, Food Writer/Publisher/Multimedia Producer/Sommelier, Whestone Magazine/Real Food Real Stories
  • Hank Smeal, Co-organizer, New York City Wine Tasting Group/Former Sales and Portfolio Manager, Greene Grape Wine & Spirits

Hosted at Moët-Hennesy USA’s New York headquarters, the first meeting brought some key considerations front and center, from the need to think of beverages as food (and use language that encompasses both), to the agricultural components of the industry that provide opportunities to explore topics like sustainable production, biodiversity, and heritage crops. Of course, the economics of the industry are never far below the surface. Consumption data show that millennials and those coming of age behind them are drinking less but drinking better. We believe this highlights the potential for our programs and partnerships to flourish.

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Mitchell Davis is chief strategy officer at the James Beard Foundation. Find him on Twitter and Instagram.

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