The James Beard Foundation announced that Patrick O’Connell, a five-time James Beard Award winner, 3-star Michelin chef, author, and owner of The Inn at Little Washington in Washington, Virginia, has been named the recipient of the 2019 James Beard Lifetime Achievement award; and Giving Kitchen, the non-profit organization providing stability for some of the most hard-working and vulnerable members of the food service community, has been named the recipient of the 2019 James Beard Humanitarian of the Year award. The Lifetime Achievement award is bestowed upon a person in the industry whose lifetime body of work has had a positive and long-lasting impact on the way we eat, cook, and think about food in America. The Humanitarian of the Year award is given to an individual or organization whose work in the realm of food has improved the lives of others and benefited society at large. Patrick O’Connell and Giving Kitchen will be honored at this year’s James Beard Awards on Monday, May 6, 2019, at Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Patrick O’Connell, a native of Washington, D.C., is a self-taught chef who pioneered the movement to offer refined, regional American cuisine in the Virginia countryside. His alliance with local farmers and artisanal producers was an adaptation born of necessity more than 40 years ago when nothing but milk was delivered to the tiny town of “Little” Washington, VA (pop. 133). Long before the farm-to-table movement had a name, he began cultivating fruitful relationships with his neighbors—many of whom have a strong connection to the land. O’Connell considers himself to be a restaurateur with a goal to restore and heal people in part through the preparation and presentation of food. He has leveraged his career milestones to benefit national and global charity initiatives with organizations such as Share Our Strength and Population Services International.
“I’m humbled to be joining a group of incredibly distinguished icons who have received this award before me,” says O’Connell. “No chef could ever receive such an acknowledgment without the talents of a dedicated team supporting him or her. I’m immensely grateful to everyone who helped me on the long and colorful journey to this point—especially to our guests for their loyal patronage through the years. I’m living proof that you can hide out in a mountain village with a population of 133 and still be discovered and recognized by your peers. The power of good food should never be underestimated.”
The 2019 Humanitarian of the Year award recipient, Giving Kitchen, provides emergency assistance to food service workers through financial support and a network of community resources. Giving Kitchen grew out of a beyond-expectation response to the devastating, stage-four cancer diagnosis of chef Ryan Hidinger in December 2012. Ryan was well-known in the Atlanta restaurant community for his work at Bacchanalia, Floataway Café, and Muss & Turner’s.; he and his wife, Jen, were beloved for their supper club Prelude to Staplehouse, a precursor to opening their dream restaurant. In response to Hidinger’s diagnosis, he received an outpouring of love and financial support to help with his expenses not covered by insurance. Giving Kitchen provides financial assistance to food service workers, based on financial need and a defined set of criteria, through Crisis Grants. They have also created a referral program to serve as a connection to social services for restaurant workers called Stability Network. To date, Giving Kitchen Crisis Grants have supported over 1,500 food service workers in need of emergency assistance.
"This award is a tribute to our community and beyond, and it has everything to do with the hard work of our staff, donors and volunteers who have advocated for Giving Kitchen,” says cofounder and spokesperson Jen Hidinger-Kendrick. “This community changed my husband's life and, quite honestly, it saved mine."
"This award is for all the people who have supported Giving Kitchen since the beginning. With their help we’ve served over 2,500 food service workers in crisis, including providing over $2.4 million in financial assistance through our Crisis Grants program and over 1,000 referrals to community resources through our Stability Network program,” adds executive director Bryan Schroeder. “We really feel like we are part of the movement that humanizes and brings value and respect to one of most important job sectors in our country.”
Tickets for this year’s Awards gala in Chicago go on sale March 27, 2019, and the Awards will be broadcast live via the James Beard Foundation’s Twitter feed. On April 6, 2019, the James Beard Media Awards, an exclusive event honoring the nation's top cookbook authors, culinary broadcast producers and hosts, and food journalists, will take place at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers in New York City.
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