For the James Beard Foundation, the show must go on.
On Monday afternoon, the foundation released its list of nominees for the 2020 James Beard Awards, an event that had previously been scheduled as a live ceremony on March 25 in Philadelphia, and was instead livestreamed on Twitter.
The semifinalist list, released on February 26, named more than 20 Massachusetts chefs and restaurants in 11 categories, while the latest list narrowed the talented field down even more.
Here are the local nominees for the 2020 James Beard Awards:
Best New Restaurant: Fox & the Knife, Boston
Outstanding Baker: Maura Kilpatrick (Sofra Bakery & Cafe, Cambridge)
Outstanding Chef: Ana Sortun (Oleana, Cambridge)
Outstanding Restaurateur: Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer (JK Food Group)
Rising Star Chef of the Year: Irene Li (Mei Mei, Boston)
So why move forward with this annual award when so much of the industry is in turmoil right now? In a May 1 blog post, the foundation explained that after consulting with industry professionals from across the country, there was a consensus that the awards could “offer a glimmer of hope to an industry looking for light in a very dark time,” and that the chefs and restaurants nominated should still be celebrated for their exceptional work.
Meanwhile, the foundation has also launched Open For Good, a campaign dedicated to rebuilding the independent restaurant industry through initiatives like the James Beard Foundation Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund.
“Some of the restaurants announced today are temporarily closed, some are operating in another form, such as take-out or meal relief efforts, whilst others have already announced that they will permanently close,” said CEO Clare Reichenbach in a press release. “Today we acknowledge the accomplishments of all the people behind these restaurants, and the need for everyone to fight for this industry that employs 16 million people and is a vital part of American culture.”
Find the complete list of 2020 nominees here. The restaurant and chef winners will be announced in Chicago on September 25.
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