Begun in 1984 by Cook’s and Restaurant Business magazines, the Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America was administered by the James Beard Foundation from 1990 to 2018. The James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America is a cadre of the most accomplished food and beverage professionals in the country.
Though they represent a diverse cross-section of the food and beverage industry—from chefs to journalists to farmers to business executives to scholars—each has been identified by his or her peers as having displayed remarkable talent and achievement. Every member of the Who’s Who has contributed in some substantial way to America’s constantly evolving culinary scene. Although the Who’s Who has been underwritten by different sponsors since its inception, the process of induction remained the same: each year a ballot of 20 possible candidates with bios was created and distributed to the entire Who’s Who group for voting. Inductees were announced as part of the James Beard Foundation Awards festivities in the spring. In 2018, the Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America program was retired in light of the Foundation’s new inclusion objectives.