ST. LOUIS — The James Beard Foundation will not announce any more winners for its prestigious food industry awards in 2020 and is canceling the 2021 awards, a decision affecting one St. Louis-area chef.
The New York-based nonprofit’s decision was made in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and its potentially devastating consequences for the hospitality industry. The Independent Restaurant Coalition, formed earlier this year to advocate for targeted federal financial assistance for the restaurant industry, estimates that up to 85% of independent restaurants are at risk of closing due to the pandemic’s impact on their operations.
“In short, an honor which we know is held in high regard, at the moment, feels minor when compared to the dire situation we are in,” explained Clare Reichenbach, the foundation’s CEO, in a statement. She added, “We look forward to bringing the Awards back when the industry is once again ready for them.”
That may not be until 2022. The foundation will use the extended break to conduct an audit of its awards program that aims, in part, to root out systemic bias and increase the diversity of nominees.
The foundation plans to replace the upcoming Sept. 25 ceremony with a live online broadcast from Chicago, the host city for this year’s awards. The broadcast will celebrate winners in a handful of categories that had previously been announced, including recognitions for lifetime achievement and humanitarian of the year.
“The broadcast will also shine a spotlight on many of the nominees and be a night of storytelling surrounding the historic challenges this community faces and how we can work together to rebuild a stronger and more equitable restaurant industry,” according to a statement from the foundation.
Click here for the full story.