Categories: News

After more than a year of mess, the James Beard Foundation published the recommendations from its internal audit

After the James Beard Foundation (JBF) announced it would cancel its prestigious awards program for 2020 and 2021, the organization has published recommendations from its internal audit. Notably, the JBF—which grants the country’s most sought-after awards for chefs and food media—is updating the way that chefs are scouted, vetted, and selected for its honors. It’s also creating new rules about how many years judges can serve, after allegations that prominent food-world figures served for too long and acted as de facto kingmakers who once could make a chef’s career. So it makes sense that the foundation is also establishing an ethics committee that will function independently of its awards committee. The results of the audit “paint a picture of an organization that hopes to undertake a major overhaul in order to be more self-aware, transparent, and diverse,” Eater reports. But missing from the published report are the actual findings of the organization’s internal investigation. In 2020, the pandemic was cited as the reason the JBF canceled its awards show and decided to not name winners for 2021 or 2021, but another story unfolded publicly. The New York Times reported that not a single Black chef was among the would-have-been winners in 23 categories. Some nominees were chefs accused of abuse and other bad behavior. There were also questions about how JBF treated its employees. In July 2020, on the heels of nationwide protests in response to the murder of George Floyd, Eater reported that a group of the organization’s employees sent a letter to the foundation’s senior leadership team, describing “pay disparity, inadequate benefits, long hours, and challenging working conditions.” 

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