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 is scheduled to take place as it had in pre-pandemic times, in a ceremony in Chicago on Monday, June 13, 2022. The semifinalist list was announced on Wednesday, February 23. The finalists were revealed on Twitter on Wednesday, March 16.
As in years past, there will be a Media Awards, also in June. The foundation hasn’t announced the official date, but it has often been within the week prior to the restaurant and chef Awards. Nominees for media awards were announced in a livestream on Wednesday April 27.
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.
The 2022 awards will be watched to see not only who wins, but also whether the promises of the audit are fulfilled, and if the interventions and changes the foundation has made actually produce a more diverse and inclusive winners’ list — and, arguably above all, to see what happens to 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.