James Beard Foundation scraps awards this year and 2021

WASHINGTON, DC — April 13: Tessie Bruce chats with server Carly Copeland at Tail Up Goat. (Photo by Dixie D. Vereen/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The James Beard Foundation has decided to forgo announcing this year’s remaining restaurant and chef winners, and will forgo traditional awards next year, citing the difficult times the pandemic has caused for restaurants.

Its Sept. 25 awards ceremony, to be broadcast live from Chicago, will instead focus on previously announced winners in the categories of America’s Classics, Lifetime Achievement, Humanitarian of the Year, Design Icon and Leadership Awards.

D.C. was represented on the nominees lists in several categories: Outstanding Restaurant — Jaleo; Rising Star Chef — Paola Velez of Kith/Kin; and Best Chef Mid-Atlantic — Amy Brandwein of Centrolina and John Sybert of Tail Up Goat.

“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,” the James Beard Foundation said in a statement.

As for canceling its traditional awards presentations for 2021, the foundation said any intent to hold a ceremony in 2021 based on 2020 work would be unfair and misguided because of hardships restaurants and potential nominees face this year.

It will still hold its 2021 ceremony in Chicago in May, broadcasting it nationwide, and it will focus on the independent restaurant community who have shown leadership during the pandemic and honor those who have made a significant impact on the industry and their communities.

At this point, the foundation intends to hold its traditional awards nominees and winners ceremony in 2022, with the entry and recommendation period in fall of 2021. It will also expand eligibility rules to include any relevant work that would have been eligible for a 2021 award.

The James Beard Foundation’s full statement is posted online.

A full list of 2020 nominees in multiple categories was posted online in May.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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