There will be no more James Beard Award winners this year.
The James Beard Foundation announced today that it will not present winners in the remaining categories at its upcoming Awards ceremony, scheduled for Fri., Sept. 25. This includes the coveted Best Chef awards, for which local chefs Michael Corvino of Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room and Michael Gallina of Vicia were finalists in the Best Chef: Midwest category.
Congrats to the nominees!
It's an unprecedented move in the 30-year history of the James Beard Foundation, but not necessarily a surprising one given how seriously restaurants across the country have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The foundation explains that the decision "comes as restaurants continue to suffer the grave negative effects of COVID-19, and as substantial and sustained upheaval in the community has created an environment in which the Foundation believes the assignment of Awards will do little to further the industry in its current uphill battle."
There will still be a ceremony on Set. 25, in which previously announced winners in the following categories will be honored: America’s Classics, Lifetime Achievement, Humanitarian of the Year, Design Icon and Leadership Awards. Broadcast live from Chicago on Twitter, the ceremony will also serve as "a night of storytelling surrounding the historic challenges this community faces, and how we can work together to rebuild a stronger and more equitable restaurant industry."
"We did not come to this decision lightly," James Beard Foundation CEO Clare Reichenbach said in a statement. "The uncertainty of this time for our industry is already a hard reality and considering anyone to have won or lost within the current tumultuous hospitality ecosystem does not in fact feel like the right thing to do. In short, an honor which we know is held in high regard, at the moment, feels minor when compared to the dire situation we are in. As we strive to provide an Awards program with the highest ethical standards, one that is fair, equitable, and reflective of the industry which we serve, we know that the right move is to step back and take stock of the nominees’ and honorees’ achievements. We hope to focus our collective energy on helping our community get through this crisis and on addressing the inequities in the industry going forward. We look forward to bringing the Awards back when the industry is once again ready for them."
With that said, the Foundation has also decided to cancel the traditional Awards presentations in 2021, explaining that "any intent to hold a ceremony in 2021 based on 2020 work would be unfair and misguided, taking into account the unprecedented hardships which restaurants and potential nominees faced this year."
The JBF will still hold a ceremony in Chicago in May 2021, but it will instead celebrate the "the independent restaurant community who have shown leadership during this crisis and honoring those who have made a significant impact on the industry and in their communities."