James Beard Foundation Won’t Announce Remaining 2020 Winners, Cancels 2021 Awards

The foundation said holding the awards would be "unfair and misguided"

2017 James Beard Award Nominees
James Beard medal of the 2009 James Beard Foundation Awards.
Victor Spinelli/WireImage via Getty

The James Beard Foundation has announced that it will not be handing out its 2020 awards for outstanding chefs and restaurants as a result of the pandemic.

“The choice comes as restaurants continue to suffer the grave negative effects of COVID-19, and as substantial and sustained upheaval in the community has created an environment in which the Foundation believes the assignment of Awards will do little to further the industry in its current uphill battle,” the Foundation said in a statement. “The Awards’ usual positive impact on restaurants and chefs’ businesses will likely not be fully realized due to the current state of the industry, with many restaurants closed permanently or temporarily or operating at minimal capacity.”

The Foundation had previously announced 2020 winners in its other categories, including America’s Classics, Lifetime Achievement, Humanitarian of the Year, Design Icon and Leadership Awards. Those winners will still be recognized during a digital ceremony on September 25.

Perhaps most significantly, the Foundation also announced that it is canceling its 2021 awards, which would have recognized the work of chefs and restaurants who have obviously struggled in the face of tough circumstances this year due to COVID-19. Holding an awards ceremony in 2021 “would be unfair and misguided, taking into account the unprecedented hardships which restaurants and potential nominees faced this year,” the organization wrote in a press release.

Instead of a traditional awards ceremony in 2021, Eater reports that “a May 2021 event, tentatively planned for an in-person ceremony in Chicago, will celebrate members of the restaurant community who have emerged as leaders and positively impacted their communities during the coronavirus crisis.”


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