The James Beard Awards were not their usual selves this year. There was no Chicago gala, for one, and months after that announcement, the Foundation nixed handing out its Restaurant and Chef awards altogether. Instead, the James Beard Foundation held a Twitter broadcast to honor awards winners outside the main chef and restaurant categories, like the Leadership Awards, America’s Classics awards, Design Icon, and the Humanitarian Award.
The chef and restaurant awards nominees presumably watched from home with no expectations for a win. But, they did get some acknowledgment from the foundation — each nominee received a gift bag (according to Eater’s sources, it included items like a hydro flask, chocolate, and a tote bag, among other things) and what was essentially a James Beard Award-approved meal kit to “congratulate you on your... nomination!”.
But this wasn’t Blue Apron. According to images posted by nominees to Instagram, the three-course meal included recipes for a cream of cauliflower soup with grilled shrimp and a blackened salmon with corn succotash, both from Best Chef: Great Lakes nominee chef Erick Williams, of Virtue in Chicago, complete with a page each of instructions. It also came with a pre-assembled carrot soufflé pie from Maya-Camille Broussard of Chicago’s Justice of the Pies, plus a mini bottle from longtime sponsor San Pellegrino and a bottle of rosé (?).
It looks pretty good! Of course, unlike the home cooks of many a Blue Apron box, the professional chefs that make up a number of these meal kit recipients have the skills to do it justice.
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Ok, so, clearly the @beardfoundation awards as we know them are NOT happening tonight. In their place, from my little kitchen, I’m cooking and eating a recipe from one of the phenomenal, so-highly-deserving finalists, @cheferickwilliams of @virtuerestaurantchi: blackened salmon with corn succotash, corn cream, and basil butter. Huge congrats to every one of 2020’s finalists (and semi-finalists!). You’re all brilliant, talented, and worthy of celebration. Thank you so much for making this messy country a better and more delicious place. #toosmalltofail, #jbfa, #openforgood, #eattheworld
Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Awards.