For the first time in its 30-year history, the James Beard Foundation will not present awards at the Sept. 25 ceremony.
The Foundation issued a release saying the decision was made because of the challenges facing the restaurant industry during the coronavirus pandemic.
The awards, which will be held live from Chicago via Twitter, will instead celebrate previously announced honorees in categories such as America's Classic, Lifetime Achievement, Humanitarian of the Year, Design Icon, and Leadership. The ceremony will also shine a spotlight on many of the nominees along with challenges restaurants have faced during the pandemic and ways to rebuild a stronger, more equitable restaurant industry.
Since the pandemic forced businesses across the country to shut down, restaurants have been hit particularly hard. While most businesses have reopened, restaurants have been hamstrung with restricted capacity leaving many to temporarily or permanently close.
The Foundation felt now is not the time for the awards.
"An honor which we know is held in high regard, at the moment, feels minor when compared to the dire situation we are in," James Beard Foundation CEO Clare Reichenback said in the release.
The Foundation will turn its energy to helping the restaurant community get through the crisis.
It also plans to do begin a year-long review to audit and overhaul the awards process to remove any systemic bias.
The Foundation also made the decision to forgo its traditional awards presentation in May of 2021, saying that basing those awards on 2020 work would be unfair given the hardships restaurants have. Instead, the ceremony will be a celebration of 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.
The Foundation does plan to return to a traditional, but overhauled, process with an entry and recommendation period in the Fall of 2021 for awards taking place in 2022.
Contact at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at Short_OrdersNR and on Facebook.
Concerned about COVID-19?
Sign up now to get the most recent coronavirus headlines and other important local and national news sent to your email inbox daily.