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James Beard Awards canceled for 2020 and 2021

With restaurants struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic, the James Beard Foundation will hold off giving out the remaining 2020 awards and will skip 2021 too.

For the first time in its 30-year history, there will be no James Beard Awards handed out to outstanding chefs and restaurants, according to the foundation

The decision was made as restaurants continue to struggle amid the coronavirus pandemic. The James Beard Foundation said Thursday that "the assignment of Awards will do little to further the industry in its current uphill battle."

The awards are usually given within six main categories, Restaurant and Chef, Book, Journalism, Broadcast Media, and Restaurant Design and Leadership.

The previously announced winners for certain categories will still be recognized during a live broadcast on Twitter from Chicago.

"The uncertainty of this time for our industry is already a hard reality and considering anyone to have won or lost within the current tumultuous hospitality ecosystem does not in fact feel like the right thing to do," said James Beard Foundation CEO Clare Reichenbach. "In short, an honor which we know is held in high regard, at the moment, feels minor when compared to the dire situation we are in."

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On top of that, the foundation also said it will forgo its award presentations in 2021. The awards are based on work done during the previous calendar year, so the awards would be "unfair and misguided." Instead, the ceremony will be used to celebrate the restaurant community and to honor those who made an impact during this crisis.

Reichenbach said that the decision was difficult to make. She hopes that this decision will help "focus our collective energy on helping our community get through this crisis and on addressing the inequities in the industry going forward."

The foundation also announced that it's planning to overhaul the policies and procedures for the awards moving forward to remove any systematic bias and to increase the diversity of candidates. 

There will be no 2020 winners in the following Restaurant and Chef categories:  

  • Best New Restaurant 
  • Outstanding Baker 
  • Outstanding Bar Program 
  • Outstanding Chef 
  • Outstanding Hospitality 
  • Outstanding Restaurant 
  • Outstanding Restaurateur  
  • Outstanding Wine Program 
  • Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Producer
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year 
  • Best Chef: California 
  • Best Chef: Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH)
  • Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (D.C., DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA)
  • Best Chef: Midwest (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, WI)
  • Best Chef: Mountain (CO, ID, MT, UT, WY)
  • Best Chef: New York State
  • Best Chef: Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT)
  • Best Chef: Northwest & Pacific (AK, HI, OR, WA)
  • Best Chef: South (AL, AR, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, FL, LA, MS)
  • Best Chef: Southeast (GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV)
  • Best Chef: Southwest (AZ, NM, NV, OK)
  • Best Chef: Texas