JBF Through the Years

It has certainly been an eventful 25 years! Since JBF’s inception in 1986 we’ve seen plenty of ups and a few downs, but the Foundation has never been in a better place. With the recent launch of our annual Leadership Awards, the upcoming publication of our first original book, and a series of celebratory events slated for 2012, the Foundation’s next quarter century is off to a great start!
James Beard Foundation Timeline
James Beard
JANUARY 23, 1985

James Beard dies of heart failure at the age of 81.
Julia Child and James Beard
MARCH 1985

At an IACP conference in Seattle, Julia Child suggests, “Something ought to be done with Jim’s house.” Friend—and former Beard student—Peter Kump heeds her call. Child would later write, “We need such a place as the Beard House in New York, where we can meet and commune and dine and celebrate—and where we can honor our generous patron saint, James A. Beard.”
certificate of incorporation
SEPTEMBER 19, 1985

Certificate of Incorporation of the James Beard Foundation is filed under the name “The Culinary Arts Foundation, Inc.” The name would officially change to the James Beard Foundation in July 1986.

James Beard’s townhouse at 167 West 12th Street is listed on the market. It is eventually purchased for $750,000 by a group of chefs and food lovers from around the country.
OCTOBER 3, 1985

William Doyle Galleries auctions off Beard’s belongings. One of the items sold is Porkus, Beard’s water-spouting copper pig.
Larry Forgione
NOVEMBER 4, 1986

The first JBF gathering is held at the Beard House. Hors d’oeuvre are prepared by Larry Forgione, then of An American Place.
inauguration of Beard House
NOVEMBER 5, 1986

The official inauguration of the James Beard House.
Wolfgang Puck
JANUARY 21, 1987

Wolfgang Puck of Spago cooks the first Beard House dinner. Two dozen guests attend. On the menu: winter greens sautéed with duck livers and grilled salmon with celery cream.
Jean-Louis Palladin
JULY 15, 1987

Jean-Louis Palladin cooks his first dinner at the Beard House.
first auction gala
DECEMBER 14, 1987

The first JBF Annual Auction Gala is held at the Beard House.
Emeril Lagasse
MAY 17, 1988

Emeril Lagasse, then the chef at New Orleans’s famed Commander’s Palace, cooks at the Beard House for the first time. On the menu was Commander’s turtle soup and Creole rabbit pie.
Daniel Boulud
JUNE 20, 1989

Daniel Boulud, then the chef at Le Cirque, cooks at the Beard House. On the menu: lots of tomatoes—from hors d’oeuvre to dessert—and rabbit (a very popular menu item at the Beard House at the time).
Chris Schlesinger
JULY 1989

Future JBF Award winner Chris Schlesinger from Boston’s East Coast Grill famously sets up a grill on West 12th Street to cook his Beard House dinner.
Thomas Keller
AUGUST 15, 1989

Thomas Keller cooks his first dinner at the Beard House. Then the chef at NYC’s Rakel, his menu included roasted saddle of rabbit on a bed of leek fondue, homardine sauce, and potato gnocchi gratin.
Beard garden

JBF Garden Committee restores the backyard garden at the Beard House. They were able to find and reinstall Beard’s copper pig, Porkus.

The Beard House kitchen is remodeled; gas stoves and ovens (Beard had preferred electric), a commercial dishwasher, and a ventilation system are installed.
Tom Colicchio
NOVEMBER 5, 1990

Tom Colicchio, then the chef at Mondrian in midtown Manhattan, cooks his first dinner at the Beard House. On the menu: lobster and artichoke salad with basil oil and chocolate ganache cake.
Scholarship program

JBF launches a scholarship program.
JBF Awards
MAY 6, 1991

The first James Beard Foundation Awards are held on the MS New Yorker with George Plimpton as host. Wolfgang Puck wins the Outstanding Chef Award and Outstanding Restaurant goes to NYC’s Bouley.
Chefs & Champagne

The first Chefs & Champagne event takes place at the home of art dealer Marc Humphrey in the Hamptons. Our first honoree was New York Times restaurant critic and cookbook author Craig Claiborne. Future honorees at this annual event would include Julia Child, Daniel Boulud, and Martha Stewart.
MAY 18, 1992

Time magazine deems the JBF Awards the “Oscars of the food world.”
Gray Kunz

Charlie Trotter and friends cook a the Beard House dinner themed “The Ultimate East/West Dinner,” during which chef Gray Kunz, then of Lespinasse, parks a refrigerated truck on 12th Street to plate his chilled soup and sorbet.
Mario Batali
DECEMBER 13, 1995

Aquavit sends it’s new chef, Marcus Samuelsson, to cook his first of many Beard House dinners, a St. Lucia Day feast (the menu included St. Lucia saffron buns with gravlax and mustard espresso sauce). Samuelsson, now of NYC’s Red Rooster, holds the record for most Beard House dinners, with 19.
APRIL 1, 1996

The Foundation launches Greens, a junior membership campaign appealing to food lovers under 40.
Philip Mihalski
SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

Chef Philip Mihalski of Nell’s in Seattle arrives at the Beard House to prep for his dinner just as it becomes apparent that the first plane has hit the World Trade Center.

JBF holds an event at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics: Eating to Win: Antioxidants, Olive Oil, and the Mediterranean Diet.
Charlie Trotter

Chefs Thomas Keller and Chef Charlie Trotter form an ad-hoc advisory board, comprised of prominent members of the food and restaurant community, to oversee the Foundation’s transition after the board of trustees and president are forced to step down.
Beard Bites
JANUARY 18, 2006

The first issue of Beard Bites, JBF’s first enewsletter, is sent out to members and online subscribers. The readership would grow to over 25,000 by 2011.
Susan Ungaro

Susan Ungaro is named the new JBF president.
house renovation

The Beard House undergoes a renovation led by JBF trustee John Washko. Special attention was paid to the kitchen, where restaurant-quality appliances were installed.
Ferran Adria
OCTOBER 12, 2006

The annual JBF auction is held at Guastavino’s and honors visionary Spanish chefs Ferran Adrià, Juan Mari Arzak, and Martín Berasategui.
Taste America

To celebrate our 20th anniversary, JBF creates the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America™ featuring dinners that take place in 20 cities throughout the country at the same time.
JBF Notes

The first issue of our member newsletter, JBF Notes, arrives in mailboxes.
Delights and Prejudices
MAY 2009

JBF’s first blog, Delights & Prejudices, launches to live blog the 2009 JBF Awards.
David Chang
AUGUST 20, 2009

JBF Award winner and renowned pork lover David Chang, chef of the Momofuku restaurants in NYC, cooks an all-vegetable dinner at the Beard House.
JBF Food Conference

The first JBF Food Conference is held at the Pew Center in Washington, D.C.
APRIL 12–MAY 14, 2011

JBF LTD, the Foundation’s first pop-up restaurant, appears in the Chelsea Market. Featured guest chefs include Laurent Gras and David Chang.
garden redesign

The Beard House garden is redesigned by Garden Design magazine. Though he no longer spouts water, Porkus is still a fixture!
Leadership Awards
OCTOBER 12, 2011

The inaugural James Beard Foundation Leadership Awards are held at Hearst Tower. Honorees include First Lady Michelle Obama, Will Allen, and Janet Poppendieck.
25th anniversary

JBF launches a year of 25th Anniversary celebrations. Visit jamesbeard.org/25 for more information.