James Beard Foundation Announces Changes to 2020 Regional Restaurant and Chef Awards

Next year's awards will feature reconfigured regional categories

2017 James Beard Award Nominees
James Beard medal of the the 2009 James Beard Foundation Awards Ceremony and Gala at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts on May 4, 2009 in New York City. (Victor Spinelli/WireImage)
By Bonnie Stiernberg / September 17, 2019 2:51 pm

The James Beard Foundation announced today that it’s shaking up the regional categories of its prestigious annual Restaurant & Chef Awards, expanding the regional Best Chef awards from 10 geographic areas to 12 and reconfiguring some areas into new regions based on culinary trends.

California will be removed from the “West” category and become its own region, while New York City, previously its own region, will become part of the “New York State” region. Texas will also become its own regional category, and Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington will be combined into a new “Northwest & Pacific” category.

“The national restaurant scene and the populations that fuel it are constantly shifting,” James Beard Foundation chief strategy officer Mitchell Davis said in a press release. “We understand that as a Foundation, we must continually adapt to serve our community as fairly as possible. Our regional Best Chef categories have undergone several geographic shifts in the past to account for demographic changes found in our research and our experience with the dynamic culinary communities around the country. The last changes were implemented in 2012. By increasing our regional awards from 10 to 12 we are recognizing the explosion of food and restaurant culture across the country, and we are pleased to share this news with the food and hospitality community and all those who follow our annual Awards.”

The changes will go into effect in advance of the Oct. 1 open recommendation period for the 2020 awards.

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