Today kicks off the start of the 2019 James Beard Awards process, with the foundation announcing its call for entries this morning. There are some new awards in the mix, including a journalism award named for the iconic Los Angeles critic/evangelist Jonathan Gold, who died earlier this year.
Formerly known as the “local impact award,” the “Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award will honor “new writers who are telling stories of their cities and regions, just as Jonathan continually shone a light on his beloved Los Angeles.” The foundation has also added a new “short-form personal essay” category.
Changes are afoot for the Restaurant and Chef awards too: Per the press release, a new restaurant-design award dedicated to “Other Eating & Drinking Places” will “honor the diversity of choice in eating and drinking with the expansion of variety and quality designs.” Previously the design awards only honored two restaurants a year, one 76 seats and above and the other 75 seats and below. Establishments not typically highlighted by the awards, like “quick service and fast casual restaurants, diners, counter service, food trucks & food halls, ice cream and cake shops, pop-ups, take-out counters, and coffee bars and shops,” are all eligible. (Of course, a design award tends to favor businesses that hired design firms, so brace for some very swanky coffee bars.)
Since the #MeToo movement found its way to the restaurant industry last year, the Beard Foundation has been in catch-up mode to make sure its awards reflect the true diversity of the food world. Along with new categories, the Beard Foundation previously announced that it would waive its Media Awards’ $150 entrance fee for “first-time award entrants” going forward, and entry fees will also be waived for the first two weeks of the submission period, which starts now. While some argue that these changes are not enough to tilt the balance away from the privileged and the entrenched power players in food, the proof will be in the nominations and final results — not just this year, but in the years to come.
• 2019 James Beard Awards News [JBF]