The James Beard Foundation Awards are among the highest honors in the American food world. After two strained years, the ceremony honoring chefs and restaurants took place as it had in pre-pandemic times, in a ceremony in Chicago on Monday, June 13, 2022, while The Media Awards were held on Saturday, June 11.
The 2022 awards are the Foundation’s first following an extensive audit, and will feature a few new key protocols, including a different way of surfacing talent, nominee personal statements, and different awards categories. The canceled 2020 ceremony was, broadly speaking, a mess; the foundation initially blamed the pandemic, but reporting also suggested that it canceled the awards because there were no Black winners, and because of concerns around allegations of bullying and sexism among nominees. Some chefs voluntarily took themselves out of consideration, while others were reportedly told they were being dismissed. The 2021 program was canceled to allow enough time to do the audit and implement changes. All told, the foundation lost a lot of credibility around its most high-profile contribution to America’s culinary landscape: its award program.
After the semifinalist list was first announced on Wednesday, February 23, the finalists were revealed on Twitter on Wednesday, March 16. The list of nominees seemed to make good on the foundation’s promise of greater diversity, and with the final announcement of the awards winners, it became clear that the interventions and changes the foundation has made did produce a more diverse and inclusive winners’ list, granting a new slate of restaurants and chefs what has historically been America’s most coveted culinary prize.
Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Foundation Awards.