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The 2017 JBF Publication of the Year: Roads & Kingdoms

Journalism Awards Committee

April 25, 2017


This year, the James Beard Publication of the Year Award goes to Roads & Kingdoms. Co-founders Nathan Thornburgh and Matt Goulding, working with executive editor Cara Parks, call Roads & Kingdoms an “independent journal of food, politics, travel and culture.” Listing “food” first is fitting: this publication leads the way in showing how food journalism serves as a lens for capturing the world in all its cultural, political, and humanitarian glory.

Since its launch as a Tumblr account for covering civil unrest in Myanmar, in a few short years Roads & Kingdoms has grown into a full-time digital publication based in New York and Barcelona. The outlet publishes deeply reported and immersive long-form features, as well as photography that can elicit a Pavlovian response—not to mention a feeling of shared humanity—from the reader. Subjects covered have ranged from the last big cattle ranch in Hawaii to the unlikely beef capital of India. This team has also rethought daily food journalism with uncommon smarts. Tasty daily dispatches start with a wake-up call for breakfast in a near or distant place, then end with a drink: “It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere,” after all.

This is not voyeuristic journalism; Roads & Kingdoms features the work of writers who have an intimate knowledge of the cultures and countries they write about. Its online navigation is as smart as the stories it presents, offering a fascinating trip to points around the world. No matter what story you start reading, it invariably features strong reporting that takes you deep into an unexpected, ultimately satisfying experience. And the publication’s culinary conscience extends beyond journalistic offerings: after President Donald Trump announced his updated travel ban, Roads & Kingdoms responded by hosting a series of dinners featuring the cuisines of banned countries.

In a world hungry for knowledge about other cultures, is there any better way to connect than through food? Good food journalism can nourish true understanding—and food journalism doesn’t get any better than the offerings Roads & Kingdoms serves up every day.

—The JBF Journalism Awards Committee

Learn more about the 2017 James Beard Awards.