James Beard Foundation Unveils 2020 Theme

The James Beard Foundation announced Tuesday that the 2020 Awards will celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the James Beard Awards, which began in 1990. Additionally, for the first time in Awards history, the Foundation will bring the Beard House to life with a two-day activation at Chicago’s Old Post Office: The James Beard Awards House presented by Capital One.

The 2020 James Beard Awards will mark the 30th anniversary of America’s most coveted and comprehensive honors for chefs, restaurants, journalists, authors, and other leaders in the food and beverage industry. Throughout their three-decade history, the Beard Awards have both sparked and reflected trends in America’s food culture. To commemorate the past, honor the present, and look to the future, the Foundation is celebrating the semifinalists, nominees, winners, events, and milestones that have created the dynamic and ever enlightening food and restaurant community we have today.

Embodying the Foundation’s Good Food for Good mantra, the James Beard Awards support sustainability, gender equality, inclusion, equity, and access for all. As the preeminent benchmark for culinary excellence, the Awards will continue to support the James Beard Foundation’s mission to make America's food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone: celebrating the past while championing the future.

“We are really excited to use this milestone moment of the 30th anniversary of the James Beard Awards to reflect on how the industry has evolved, who has pioneered change, and what lies ahead for the profession, the community, and our impact in the world,” says Clare Reichenbach, chief executive officer of the James Beard Foundation. “We’ve seen improvements in restaurant work culture, in gender equality, in diversity, and in sustainability, but there is so much more to do. It is galvanizing to register the increasing importance that food, and the food community has in society today, and we are thrilled to be celebrating the industry’s leaders and standard bearers this anniversary year.”

The James Beard Awards House Presented by Capital One, official credit card and banking partner of the Foundation, will be a dynamic, central gathering place during the Awards weekend, open Sunday, May 3, and Monday, May 4, 2020, at the Old Post Office (433 W. Van Buren Street, Chicago, IL). The Awards House will offer guests attending the awards, members of the industry, and general public a chance to engage in programming that will include talks focusing on issues that affect the community such as racial equity, sustainability, wine tariffs, and more. Local partners Choose Chicago, The Illinois Restaurant Association (IRA), Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and multiple Chicago-based restaurant groups and chefs will take up residency in fun and delicious ways. A co-working space, a media lounge, hospitality and bar areas, and one-off events with sponsors and friends of the Foundation will be plentiful. A special 30th anniversary photo exhibit created by photographer Melanie Dunea featuring past James Beard Award Winners and milestones will be open to guests. The full list of events and programming will be continually updated on the Foundation’s website, and ticket information is forthcoming.

“As a proud partner of the Foundation, we are excited to be the presenting sponsor of the James Beard Awards and support their impactful work through the James Beard Awards House in Chicago,” says Lauren Liss, VP of U.S. Card at Capital One. “By partnering with the Foundation, we’ve been able to broaden our reach and support in the culinary world, while bringing our cardholders exclusive access to memorable dining experiences.”

The Restaurant and Chef Awards semifinalists will be announced on Wednesday, February 26, 2020. Nominees for all award categories will be revealed on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. The celebrations will begin in New York City on Friday, April 24, 2020 at the James Beard Foundation Media Awards presented in association with HOUSTON FIRST, an exclusive event honoring the nation's top cookbook authors, culinary broadcast producers and hosts, and food journalists that will take place at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers.

The events then move to Chicago with the Leadership Awards Dinner taking place on Sunday, May 3, 2020, where honorees will be recognized for their work in creating a more healthful, sustainable, and just food world. The James Beard Awards Gala will take place on Monday, May 4, 2020, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. During the event, which is open to the public, awards for the Restaurant and Chef and Restaurant Design categories will be handed out, along with special achievement awards Lifetime Achievement, Design Icon, and America’s Classics. A gala reception will immediately follow, featuring top chefs and beverage professionals from across the country.

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