The James Beard Foundation Awards are among the highest honors in the American food world. After postponing the awards to an online ceremony set to take place September 25, the James Beard Foundation announced that no chef and restaurant awards would be given out on that date due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. The Foundation also effectively cancelled the 2021 James Beard Awards. It was later revealed that an absence of Black winners and controversy surrounding some of the nominees contributed to the decision.
The James Beard awards usually honor chefs, restaurants, cookbooks, food writers, and more. The semifinalists for the restaurant and chef categories (aka the “long list”) were announced on February 26, 2020. In light of growing concerns around the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Foundation postponed the announcements for finalists in the chef and restaurant categories and nominees for the media awards (originally scheduled for March 25, 2020).
In late April, the Foundation rescheduled the finalist announcement for May 4, the original date for the James Beard restaurant and chef awards ceremony. On May 4 during the finalist announcement, the Foundation announced dates for both the media and chef and restaurant awards: The list of media award winners was published online as planned on May 27. But in place of a chef and restaurant winners announcement, the virtual event on September 25 will now honor some previous awards winners in categories like America’s Classics, as well as address ways the restaurant industry can build a better future.
Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Foundation Awards.