The 2020 James Beard Awards will be officially held online in a Twitter ceremony on September 25. In an update posted to its website, the James Beard Foundation announced that due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all James Beard events through at least December 2020 will be online.
The James Beard Awards finalists were revealed in a virtual ceremony in early May, after being postponed due to the coronavirus. The winners of the media awards were announced later that month. But, the Foundation pushed back the main event honoring chefs and restaurants to September with a to-be-determined format, seemingly holding out hope for some version of the usual Chicago ceremony. Chicago is still the official host city for the now-determined online event, which kicks off at 6:30 p.m. CT, with presenters and “surprise guests” joining from around the country.
It should come as no surprise that an in-person ceremony was ruled out. Coronavirus cases across the country remain on the rise, making both large gatherings and the travel required to attend such an event inadvisable. At the start of the pandemic, the James Beard Foundation also paused its awards fanfare to focus on bolstering the restaurant industry with its “Open for Good” campaign, which includes a relief fund for independent restaurants. According to the statement on the Foundation’s website, the decision to hold an online event aligns with that mission: “We are sensitive to the dire situation the restaurant industry is in, and know that an online Awards event is the best way to prioritize the health and well-being of our communities.”
The celebration will look different this year, but the Foundation maintains that even as restaurants endure this crisis, the accomplishments of James Beard Awards finalists should be recognized. On September 25, find out which industry figures will have the most cause for celebration on the James Beard Foundation Twitter, as well as here on Eater.