James Beard Awards will now require chefs to show a social justice commitment

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  john-russell  •  3 weeks ago  •  29 comments

James Beard Awards will now require chefs to show a social justice commitment
subsequent news reports also hinted at behind-the-scenes chaos, with foundation officials panicking because there were no Black winners in any of the 23 categories, according to the New York Times. And allegations of bad behavior against some of the potential winners reportedly had mounted in the run-up to the awards, leading some to take themselves out of the running and creating problems for the foundation staff as they scrambled to evaluate the charges.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



www.washingtonpost.com   /food/2021/09/14/james-beard-awards-chefs-social-justice-racial-equity/

James Beard Awards will now require chefs to show a social justice commitment


Emily Heil 6-7 minutes   9/14/2021




For the first time, winning   James Beard Awards , long known as the top honors in the restaurant and food media world, won’t just depend on someone’s skill with a whisk or with words.



The organization that doles out the prestigious annual awards has retooled its criteria and now will also base decisions on whether candidates have shown a “demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, environmental sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive.” The James Beard Foundation, which administers the awards, also announced a slate of other changes aimed at diversifying its judging committees — a move it ultimately hopes will lead to a more diverse group of winners — and screening for potentially problematic chefs taking the industry’s top honors.



The move comes as the foundation is positioning itself not just as the promoter of American cuisine, as it has for years, but of social justice causes within the restaurant industry.



“Excellence in your craft, whether you’re a chef or a restaurateur or a writer, that’s still key,” Dawn Padmore, the vice president for awards, said in an interview. “It’s an awards program. But what else are we doing — all of us — to create a better industry and community? It’s aspirational for where we want to go.”



The changes were prompted in part by the controversy that surrounded its last awards cycle. In 2020, just before the traditional announcement of winners, the foundation   announced it was scrapping   the bulk of that year’s awards program and that it planned to return in 2022. Ostensibly, the reason was the pandemic that had shuttered many restaurants and inflicted pain across the industry, making some in the industry worry about the optics of self-celebration.



But subsequent news reports also hinted at behind-the-scenes chaos, with foundation officials panicking because there were no Black winners in any of the 23 categories, according to the   New York Times . And allegations of bad behavior against some of the potential winners reportedly had mounted in the run-up to the awards, leading some to take themselves out of the running and creating problems for the foundation staff as they scrambled to evaluate the charges.



The coveted awards, named for the   food writer and educator   credited with elevating American culinary culture, aren’t merely shelf decor: They can seriously boost a chef’s career and a restaurant’s visibility — and bottom line.



Following the recommendations of an audit, the foundation is taking steps to bring more Black and other minority members onto its awards committees and has set a goal of having half its committee members and judges be BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color).



To cast a wider net, the committees charged with doling out the chef and restaurant awards — the accolades considered the Oscars of the culinary world — will no longer be solely made up of members of the food media. Going forward, they might also include authors, former restaurateurs and people outside the industry familiar with the various regions’ dining scenes. And previous winners will no longer automatically be made a part of the judging process.



Other tweaks include removing the age limit on the Rising Star Chef award and renaming it Emerging Chef.



In what might be the biggest shift for the longtime awards program, entrants will no longer be evaluated solely on their output — for chefs, that would be the food that appears on diner’s plates, or for food media, their stories and segments. Entrants must include a written, video or audio statement about how their work aligns with the awards’ mission and values of equity, sustainability and community.



That change might put some restaurants at a disadvantage, said Hanna Raskin, a longtime food writer who is now the editor of the newsletter   the Food Section , which covers food news from the South. Better-funded restaurants, for example, might find it easier to run a recycling program, she noted. And restaurants that publicly espouse a social justice mission might be rewarded in some communities but penalized in others.



“There are so many great chefs and others in the restaurant community across the South that are serving their communities by serving food,” she said. “And to be outspoken in that manner is received differently on the coasts than in between them.”



But Padmore said the goal was to widen the pool of those who would be considered, not limit it. And she said the personal statement would offer people a chance to explain how they are working toward the foundation’s goals — even if they’re not specifically crusading. “If I run a small restaurant that serves really great food, I could say that I align by treating my customers and workers well, by treating them like they are part of my community.”



Raskin, who headed the now-shuttered Association of Food Journalists, also wondered whether many journalists would be able enter if they had to comply with the new rules requiring an explanation of how they support the foundation’s values or the new ethics code that requires entrants to pledge to work “to further our industry.”



Perhaps an even stickier question for the foundation is how to deal with chefs and other potential winners who have been accused of problematic behavior on the job and off.



The foundation this week said it would form an independent committee made up of people with backgrounds in fields including law and ethics to come up with a process for vetting candidates and “conducting fair and impartial review of allegations.”



Padmore allowed that taking on the job of evaluating charges of misconduct won’t be simple. “It’s a tough job, but we are here for it,” she said. As for how all the changes will play out when the foundation gives out its next awards in 2022, she said, the organizers are looking to make adjustments as they go. “All these changes are major,” she said. “And we acknowledge that we are working in drafts.”




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JohnRussell
Professor Principal
1  seeder  JohnRussell    3 weeks ago
In what might be the biggest shift for the longtime awards program, entrants will no longer be evaluated solely on their output — for chefs, that would be the food that appears on diner’s plates, or for food media, their stories and segments. Entrants must include a written, video or audio statement about how their work aligns with the awards’ mission and values of equity, sustainability and community.
 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
2  seeder  JohnRussell    3 weeks ago

Things like this are a good metric for people to judge their own acceptance of "diversity'. Will you bitch and moan about the "woke" leftists at the James Beard Awards, or will you accept that a diverse culture demands that everyone of every race have access to a fair competition for such awards?

  Expanding the criteria to reflect diversity is not a bad thing, its a good thing. 

 
 
 
Greg Jones
PhD Expert
2.1  Greg Jones  replied to  JohnRussell @2    3 weeks ago
JR wrote: "or will you accept that a diverse culture demands that everyone of every race have access to a fair competition for such awards?"

They already do. This BS is absurd. I would suggest that good cooks and chefs ignore this political shit-show and focus on their customers

 
 
 
Ozzwald
Professor Quiet
2.1.1  Ozzwald  replied to  Greg Jones @2.1    3 weeks ago
I would suggest that good cooks and chefs ignore this political shit-show and focus on their customers

They've always had that ability.  Any cook that does not want to follow the rules, doesn't need to compete for the award.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
3  Kavika     3 weeks ago

I'm a big fan of the Sioux Chef.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
3.1  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Kavika @3    3 weeks ago

Maybe he will be nominated. 

 
 
 
Sister Moosh Noosh Ample Bottom
Professor Guide
4  Sister Moosh Noosh Ample Bottom    3 weeks ago

Nothing wrong with wanting to take the competition up a notch, although the new platform sounds a little bit like today's beauty pageants.   

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
4.1  Ender  replied to  Sister Moosh Noosh Ample Bottom @4    3 weeks ago

If they do a swimsuit segment I will be horrified.

Ever notice a lot of chefs are a little overweight...

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
4.1.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  Ender @4.1    3 weeks ago

Except for Giada what's her name...she is really slim for all that ooey goodness she whips up

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
4.1.2  Ender  replied to  Trout Giggles @4.1.1    3 weeks ago

I had to look her up. Most of these people I know their faces but not their names.

She is fit though.

The Hell's Kitchen guy is not that big.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
4.1.3  Trout Giggles  replied to  Ender @4.1.2    3 weeks ago

Gordon Ramsay. Yes, he is fit

 
 
 
Sister Moosh Noosh Ample Bottom
Professor Guide
4.1.4  Sister Moosh Noosh Ample Bottom  replied to  Ender @4.1    3 weeks ago
If they do a swimsuit segment I will be horrified.

Good point.

mature-man-wearing-stars-and-stripes-swimming-trunks-profile-picture-idBD8267-001?s=2048x2048

Yikes.

 
 
 
Ronin2
Masters Quiet
5  Ronin2    3 weeks ago

Good, now they can debate if the best chefs really won; or the most PC chefs did. 

Stupidity on overdrive. 

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
5.1  Kavika   replied to  Ronin2 @5    3 weeks ago
Stupidity on overdrive. 

As so aptly demonstrated in your comment.

 
 
 
Greg Jones
PhD Expert
5.1.1  Greg Jones  replied to  Kavika @5.1    3 weeks ago

No, in yours. Stop the snark

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
5.1.2  Kavika   replied to  Greg Jones @5.1.1    3 weeks ago
No, in yours. Stop the snark

I wasn't aware that you've been named as the resident LEO for NT. Congratulations and if I may, alu ese with a smile.

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
PhD Quiet
5.2  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Ronin2 @5    3 weeks ago

Personally, as I never plan on meeting the chef who prepares my food, I am more concerned about how it looks and tastes when the server brings it out than whether the chef is a social justice warrior or not.

 
 
 
Ronin2
Masters Quiet
5.2.1  Ronin2  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @5.2    3 weeks ago

Same here. 

Which is why their going PC is a very stupid move.

 
 
 
r.t..b...
PhD Participates
5.2.2  r.t..b...  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @5.2    3 weeks ago

On the other hand, I would never set foot in a place to spend my hard earned money in an establishment that flaunts their opposition to a mask recommendation or has their staff wearing sidearms. 

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
PhD Quiet
5.2.3  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  r.t..b... @5.2.2    3 weeks ago

I wouldn't either.

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
6  Ender    3 weeks ago

I think I will stick with Guy's Grocery Games...

 
 
 
r.t..b...
PhD Participates
7  r.t..b...    3 weeks ago

Forget awards. For an example of a true philanthropist, a true hero, a true citizen of the world…look no further than Chef Jose Andres, founder of World Central Kitchen. Nobel Peace Prize worthy, if any awards are to be meted out. 

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
7.1  Kavika   replied to  r.t..b... @7    3 weeks ago

Without a  doubt, one of the true philanthropist of our time. There are a couple of others, much smaller in scope but a tip of the hat to Chef Roy Choi and many others that that work daily to feed those in need.

 
 
 
r.t..b...
PhD Participates
7.1.1  r.t..b...  replied to  Kavika @7.1    3 weeks ago

Another unsung man using his skills for good. Well said. A tip of the toque to all of them, not to mention the tens of thousands of volunteers around the world working the food kitchens feeding those that would otherwise go hungry.

It’s where I volunteer my time and donate what I can. Give it a go if you have a spare moment or have a spare dime. It can change a life and will change a perspective. 

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
7.1.2  Kavika   replied to  r.t..b... @7.1.1    3 weeks ago

Good on you r.t..b...I donate my time and money to helping those in the NA community where food insecurity is a real problem as well.

 
 
 
Drakkonis
Masters Guide
8  Drakkonis    3 weeks ago
In what might be the biggest shift for the longtime awards program, entrants will no longer be evaluated solely on their output — for chefs, that would be the food that appears on diner’s plates, or for food media, their stories and segments. Entrants must include a written, video or audio statement about how their work aligns with the awards’ mission and values of equity, sustainability and community.

I don't see how  this could be a  good thing. So, rather than concentrating on what the award is for, you know, like good food, they have to now align their values with the "award's mission?" Why isn't the award's mission simply recognizing food? Who determined that this mission's values concerning equity, sustainability and community are the right ones? How is this not a subtle blackmailing of chefs into accepting values they may not agree with? 

Personally, I think they just killed the value of the award in the same way they've killed the Oscars. 

 
 
 
Just Jim NC TttH
Senior Principal
8.1  Just Jim NC TttH  replied to  Drakkonis @8    3 weeks ago

Exactly.  jrSmiley_28_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
r.t..b...
PhD Participates
8.2  r.t..b...  replied to  Drakkonis @8    3 weeks ago

“I don't see how  this could be a  good thing.”

Respectfully disagree.

The preparation of a meal is many faceted. To get product from responsible sources, to treat your staff in a responsible manner, to understand and appreciate your role in the community, etc., etc. How can these be bad things, and an award committee has every right to expect potential recipients adhere to a certain standard.

This does not cheapen an incredibly difficult award to garner, it only enhances it. And for the establishments and chefs in the running, the vast majority already meet the standards. 

 
 
 
Drakkonis
Masters Guide
8.2.1  Drakkonis  replied to  r.t..b... @8.2    3 weeks ago
How can these be bad things, and an award committee has every right to expect potential recipients adhere to a certain standard.

What if that standard to be adhered to was attached to promoting religion? How would you feel about it then?  

 
 
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