Would James Beard have canceled his own awards?
Last month, the venerable James Beard Foundation announced it was canceling its annual awards. The nominating committee needed to rid itself of “systemic bias,” and as others reported, despite a recent focus on racial and gender diversity, Black chefs and restaurants were still being shut out. That’s exactly what Beard himself would have wanted, says John Birdsall, author of a forthcoming biography. “Whatever his sins,” he writes for The Washington Post, “he always championed an expansive, democratic notion of food.” Celebrating an industry backed by deep-pocketed investors? Awards shows hosted by Robin Leach, with “limited-production Napa cabs swirled in voluminous glasses”? No thanks.