2019 James Beard Awards Policies and Procedures:
What are the James Beard Awards?
The James Beard Awards, aka the James Beard Foundation Awards or simply the Beard Awards, are the food industry’s highest honor. Awards are given in many categories, including chefs and restaurants, books, journalism, broadcast media, and restaurant design and graphics, as well as for lifetime achievement. Time magazine called them “the Oscars of the food world.”’
Who are the judges?
The judges for the awards are all experts in their fields selected by the governing committee for each awards category. For example, the Book Awards Committee selects the judges for the Book Awards from a national pool of authors, editors, and other professionals in the publishing field who do not have books up for awards during they year that they are judging. (Judges may, however, enter awards categories they are not judging.) The judges choose the winners by reviewing the entries and voting with secret ballots. The judging process is overseen by an independent accounting firm.
We get thousands of entries from across the U.S.A., and for certain award programs, beyond. Anyone can enter. For the 2019 awards we instituted some new policies to allow a period of free entry for those awards that have a fee (namely, Book, Journalism, Broadcast Media, and Design). Each awards program is administered in a slightly different way consistent with other awards in the field. This means that the entry process, requirements, and deadlines vary from one program to the next. But the process for each program begins on our website, where entry details and forms are posted in mid-October for the following year’s awards.
How are the Awards financed?
The Awards are a program of the James Beard Foundation, which means the trustees of the Foundation have overall fiduciary responsibility for them. Sponsorship, entry fees, and ticket and advertising sales are intended to cover the cost of the Awards program, which includes fees for the independent auditors, administrative costs for the judging, the costs for the production of the ceremony, and the costs associated with the reception. Additional funds raised from the Awards support the Foundation’s other programs.
Can you win a James Beard Foundation Award if you haven’t participated in a James Beard Foundation event?
Absolutely. Every step is taken to ensure that the Awards are open to all eligible candidates and administered fairly. James Beard Foundation staff members are not allowed to vote on the Awards, nor are trustees. And although we are extremely grateful to everyone who participates in our events, those events are in no way related to the awards process. Also, you do not need to be a James Beard Foundation member to receive a nomination or win an award.
Is there anything an entrant can do to increase his or her chances of winning?
Besides performing to the best of his or her abilities, there’s nothing anyone can do to affect the outcome of an award. We hear stories of people campaigning for various awards but our procedures are overseen by an independent accounting firm and are not susceptible to outside influence.
Are James Beard Foundation trustees eligible for an award?
No. James Beard Foundation Trustees are not eligible to win a James Beard Foundation Award. (Nor can they influence the voting in any way.) Trustees must sign a statement of conflict of interest that affirms that they or their relatives will not be eligible for an award.
What about staff?
No way. As with the trustees, all management and staff sign a conflict of interest statement that affirms that they or their relatives will not be eligible for an award.
Can sponsors affect the outcome?
Absolutely not. Sponsors do not take part in judging or determine any Awards policies.
What do James Beard Foundation Award winners receive?
Bragging rights, a handsome medal, an impressive certificate, a lot of publicity, and the satisfaction of having been recognized by your peers. In 2019, Leadership Award honorees will receive a $10,000 prize that can be donated to a nonprofit organization of their choice. No other James Beard Awards carry cash prizes.
Policies and Procedures
A James Beard Foundation Award has become the most coveted honor in the world of food and beverage because of the sound policies and procedures with which they are administered.
Governance, Structure, and Operations
The Awards Committee of the James Beard Foundation oversees the administration of the James Beard Awards, determining policies and procedures for the smooth operation of the program. The volunteer committee consists of the chairperson of each individual Awards program, members of the Foundation's Board of Trustees, and members at large.
The James Beard Foundation Awards consist of six separate recognition programs and one special achievement award: Book, Broadcast Media, Journalism, Restaurant Design, Restaurant and Chef, Lifetime Achievement, and Leadership Awards. Each program is administered by an independent volunteer committee whose members serve staggered terms of one to three years. Each committee chairperson reports to the Awards Committee. A committee member is ineligible to enter the awards competition of the program for which he or serves on a committee during his or her year of service. (Though he or she may enter the competition of another awards program.)
The James Beard Awards open call for entry begins in mid-October. Committees meet after deadlines close to the review the entries, confirm eligibility, and in some cases, make the first cut. Semifinalists for the Restaurant and Chef Awards are announced in February. All Awards nominees are announced in March. Winners are announced at the Media Awards Dinner and James Beard Awards Gala in April and May, respectively. Each award winner receives a certificate and a silver medallion engraved with the James Beard Foundation Awards insignia. Winners receive a complimentary professional membership for one year to the James Beard Foundation. In 2019, Leadership Award honorees will receive a $10,000 prize that can be donated to a nonprofit organization of their choice. No other James Beard Awards carry cash prizes.
2019 Awards Committee
Anne Quatrano (Committee Chair)
James Beard Award Programs
Restaurant and Chef Awards
The Restaurant and Chef awards were established in 1990 by the James Beard Foundation.
2019 Restaurant and Chef Awards Committee
Bill Addison (Chair), Restaurant Critic, The Los Angeles Times
Tina Antolini, Senior Producer, Pop-Up Magazine
Evan Benn, Editor-in-Chief, Indulge Magazine
Providence Cicero, Restaurant Critic, The Seattle Times
Jennifer V. Cole, Writer and Editor
Adam Erace, Food and Travel Writer
Devra First, Food Writer and Restaurant Critic, Boston Globe
Ian Froeb, Restaurant Critic, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
David Hagedorn, Writer
Joseph Hernandez, Deputy Food and Dining Editor, Chicago Tribune
Kate Krader, Food Editor, Bloomberg
Adrian Miller, Author
Scott Mowbray, Writer and Editor
Hanna Raskin, Food Editor and Critic, The Post and Courier
Jordana Rothman, Restaurant Editor, Food & Wine
Patricia Sharpe, Food Editor, Texas Monthly
Sherry Irene Virbila, Food and Wine Writer
Chris Ying, Writer
Nominee Selection and Judging
Call for entry starts October 15th each year. Anyone can submit a chef or restaurant for consideration during the online open call for entries in the fall. These submissions are recommendations to the committee for consideration when creating the ballot of semifinalists. They are not official nominations. There is no entry fee.
From these submissions, which number in the tens of thousands, the Restaurant and Chef Awards Committee produces a ballot with approximately 20 semifinalists in each category. These semifinalists are announced in mid February. This ballot is distributed online to a voting body comprised of over 300 previous James Beard Restaurant & Chef Award winners; 250 panelists divided evenly among the award regions; and the 18 members of the Restaurant and Chef Award subcommittee. All votes count equally and are tabulated by the independent accounting firm Lutz & Carr. The five semifinalists with the highest number of votes become the nominees.
The nominees in each category are announced in mid March. A second ballot with the nominees is then distributed to the same voting body to select the winners. Winners are announced at the Awards ceremony in May.
Criteria for Restaurant and Chef Awards
The James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant and Chef Awards honor members of the American food, beverage, and hospitality industries who demonstrate excellence in their respective fields. Winners show exceptional talent and creativity in their craft and commendable leadership among their colleagues and peers. The James Beard Foundation is dedicated to promoting a strong, safe, inclusive, ethical food community, and these awards reflect those values.
A restaurateur who demonstrates creativity in entrepreneurship and integrity in restaurant operations. Must have been in the restaurant business for at least 10 years. Must not have been nominated for a James Beard Foundation chef award in the past five years.
A chef who has set high culinary standards and who has served as a positive example for other food professionals. Must have been working as a chef for the past five years.
A restaurant that demonstrates consistent excellence in food, atmosphere, service, and operations. Must have been in business 10 or more consecutive years.
Rising Star Chef of the Year
A chef age 30 or younger who displays exceptional talent, character, and leadership ability, and who is likely to make a significant impact in years to come.
Best New Restaurant
A restaurant opened in the last calendar year that already demonstrates excellence in cuisine and hospitality, and that is likely to make a significant impact in years to come.
Outstanding Pastry Chef
A pastry chef or baker who demonstrates exceptional skill, integrity, and character in the preparation of desserts, pastries, or breads served in a restaurant. Must have been working as a pastry chef or baker for the past five years.
A pastry chef or baker who demonstrates exceptional skill, integrity, and character in the preparation of desserts, pastries, or breads served in a retail bakery. Must have been working as a pastry chef or baker for the past five years.
A restaurant in operation for five or more years that demonstrates consistency and exceptional thoughtfulness in hospitality and service.
Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional
A beer, wine, or spirits producer who demonstrates consistency and exceptional skill in his or her craft.
Outstanding Wine Program
A restaurant or bar that demonstrates excellence in wine service through a carefully considered wine list and a well-informed approach to helping customers choose and drink wine.
Outstanding Bar Program
A restaurant or bar that demonstrates exceptional care and skill in the selection, preparation, and serving of cocktails, spirits, and/or beer.
Best Chefs (10 Regions)
Chefs who set high culinary standards and also demonstrate integrity and admirable leadership skills in their respective regions. A nominee may be from any kind of dining establishment but must have been working as a chef for at least five years, with the three most recent years spent in the region.
Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH)
Mid-Atlantic (D.C., DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA)
Midwest (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, WI)
New York City (Five Boroughs)
Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, NY State, RI, VT)
Northwest (AK, ID, MT, OR, WA, WY)
West (CA, HI, NV)
South (AL, AR, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, FL, LA, MS)
Southeast (GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV)
Southwest (AZ, CO, NM, OK, TX, UT)
A restaurant with timeless appeal, beloved in its region for quality food that reflects the character of its community. The establishment must have been in existence at least 10 years and be locally owned; preferably it is also informal and moderately priced.
The Restaurant and Chef Awards Committee chooses the America’s Classics award winners from the award regions.
Restaurant Design Awards
The Restaurant Design Awards were established by the James Beard Foundation in 1994.
2019 Restaurant Design Awards Committee
James Biber (Chair)
Nominee Selection and Judging
Any restaurant or design project that was completed or redone in North America within three years prior to the year the award is being given is eligible. Architects, interior designers, and graphic designers submit their projects for consideration.
The Foundation received more than 200 entries for the 2018 Restaurant Design Awards.
The Restaurant Design Awards Committee is made up of architects, interior designers, and graphic designers. The committee both chooses the jurors who will judge the winners and oversees the process. They are looking for beautiful functional design that seamlessly melds the setting and theme of the restaurant environment.
The nominees are announced at a Nominees Breakfast in March. The winners are announced during the Awards Ceremony in May. The architect(s) or designer(s) receive(s) the award.
Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America
The Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America was started in 1984 by Cook’s Magazine and Restaurant Business. The James Beard Foundation took them into the fold in 1990. In light of new directives for inclusion and diversity, in 2018 the Who’s Who award was retired. Extant members at that time were memorialized and archived on the James Beard Foundation website.
The Awards Committee selects the Lifetime Achievement recipient and, if an outstanding candidate warrants it, the Humanitarian Award recipient. These winners are announced at the Nominees Breakfast in March.
The Book Awards that are administered by the James Beard Foundation were started in 1966 by French’s Mustard as the R. T. French Tastemaker Awards. They were administered briefly and in turn by Duncan Hines, Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, and the International Association of Culinary Professionals. The James Beard Foundation took them into the fold in 1990.
2019 Book Awards Committee
Scott Alves Barton
Carol Mighton Haddix
Andrea Weigl (Chair)
Nominee Selection and Judging
Any book published in English in the United States or Canada during the previous calendar year is eligible for an award. Publishers, editors, and authors submit their books for consideration in one of the Book Award categories. The categories may change slightly each year to reflect trends in publishing. In 2018 the categories were:
2. Baking and Desserts
5. Health and Special Diets
7. Reference, History, and Scholarship
8. Restaurant and Professional
9. Single Subject
10. Vegetable-Focused Cooking
In order to have a book entered into the photography category, you must enter your book into one of the listed categories, and also enter your book in the photography category.
Four judges are assigned to each category. The judges are not committee members; rather, they’re editors, authors, journalists, and culinary educators who have not published a culinary book during the current Awards year.
Judges are looking for books that contribute to the growing canon of information and knowledge about food and beverage. Content, accuracy, design, and writing style are among the elements considered. The Book Awards Committee selects the Book of the Year from among the nominated books in each category. Each year the committee also inducts a classic cookbook or an author’s body of work into the Cookbook Hall of Fame.
The nominees are announced at a Nominees breakfast in March. The winners are announced during the Media Awards Dinner in April. The author(s) or photographer of the book receive(s) the award.
Broadcast Media Awards
The Broadcast Media Awards were established in 1993 by the James Beard Foundation.
2019 Broadcast Media Awards Committee
Ken Rubin (Chair)
Nominee Selection and Judging
Any English-language TV, radio, documentary, or webcast show or segment on food, cooking, or gastronomy, appearing widely for the first time in North America during the previous calendar year is eligible. Producers, reporters, writers, hosts, and other people involved in the production submit their work for consideration.
The Broadcast Media Awards Committee divides the entries into appropriate categories, with five to six judges assigned to each category. The judges chosen by the committee. They include producers, educators, editors, and print journalists. Judges may not enter the category they are judging during the current Awards year. They are looking for content, originality, high production values, and a fresh perspective on food- and beverage-related topics.
The nominees are announced at a Nominees Breakfast in March. The winners are announced during the Media Awards Dinner in April. The host(s), reporter(s), or show receive(s) the award.
The Journalism Awards were established by the James Beard Foundation in 1992.
2019 Journalism Awards Committee
John Kessler (Chair)
Nominee Selection and Judging
Any article that was published in English in the United States or Canada during the previous calendar year is eligible. Writers, journalists, and editors submit their articles for consideration.
The judges, who are selected by the Journalism Awards Committee, comprise working editors, journalists (not covering food and beverage topics), retired food and beverage editors and writers, and deans and professors of leading journalism colleges. The judges (more than 100 in total) may not enter in the category that they are judging during the current Awards year.
Beginning with the 2019 awards, first time entrants have free entry. For other entrants there is a $100 entry fee for JBF members, $150 for nonmembers. The initial free period of entry is made possible by S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water, who is committed to shining a spotlight on diverse voices in the industry.
The judges are looking for accurate, insightful reporting, exceptional writing, unusual perspectives, and other attributes of fine journalism as they pertain to food and beverage topics.
In 2019 the Journalism Award categories are:
2. Craig Claiborne Distinguished Restaurant Review Award
3. Dining and Travel
4. Feature Reporting
5. Food Coverage in General Interest Publication
7. Health and Wellness
8. Home Cooking
9. Innovative Storytelling
10. Investigative Reporting
11. Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award
12. MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award
13. Personal Essay, Long Form
14. Personal Essay, Short Form
16. Wine, Spirits, and Other Beverages
The nominees are announced at a Nominees Breakfast in March. The winners are announced during the Media Awards Dinner in April. The journalist(s) receive(s) the award.
Established in 1990, the James Beard Awards recognize culinary professionals for excellence and achievement in their fields and furthers the Foundation’s mission to celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders making America's food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone. Each award category has an individual committee made up of industry professionals who volunteer their time to oversee the policies, procedures, and selection of judges for their respective Awards program.
All JBF Award winners receive a certificate and a medallion engraved with the James Beard Foundation Awards insignia. Each of this year’s Leadership Award honorees will receive a $10,000 prize that can be donated to a nonprofit organization of their choice. No other James Beard Awards carry cash prizes.
2019 Leadership Awards Committee
Anne McBride (Chair)
Nominee Selection and Judging
An open call for Leadership Award recommendations is launched in mid October along with the other James Beard Awards open calls. Additional nominations are solicited from previous Leadership Award honorees. The committee reviews recommendations to create a ballot of top nominees. Previous honorees vote. The results are reviewed by the committee to confirm the final slate of honorees, which is announced in a press release in April. The separate Leadership Awards ceremony and dinner is held in Chicago during the James Beard Awards weekend in May.