The restaurant industry hasn’t begun to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, but the James Beard Foundation is moving ahead with its annual awards: On May 4 (the original date for the annual James Beard Awards ceremony in Chicago) the Foundation will announce the 2020 James Beard Awards finalists during a live-streamed, virtual event.
In mid-March, as the coronavirus shutdown began, the Foundation postponed the announcement originally scheduled for March 25 to focus on “[using] our voice and platform as a resource for our community to face the current challenges that exist as a result of this crisis.” Those efforts included launching a survey to track the effects of COVID-19 on the restaurant industry and establishing a relief fund for business owners. However, soon after the fund opened, the Foundation suspended applications due to overwhelming demand.
James Beard Foundation CEO Clare Reichenbach will cohost the new virtual nominee announcement with Visit Philadelphia president and CEO Jeff Guaracino (the announcement was originally planned for an event in Philadelphia). The livestream will also feature guests and presenters from the city, including Mayor Jim Kenney and Kalaya Thai Kitchen chef Chutatip Suntaranon, presumably all appearing from separate locations.
The announcement will cover nominees from all of the usual restaurant and chef categories, as well as nominees for the book and media awards. And plans for some kind of awards ceremony are also moving ahead. A spokesperson for the awards told Eater that “details regarding the date, format and location of the awards will be shared as soon as possible.” Whether or not the public will be able to see the restaurant design that wins this year or dine at the restaurants of 2020’s best regional chefs when that time comes is an open question.
• James Beard Foundation [official]