The James Beard Foundation Award: Why Restaurateurs Strive for Excellence


James Beard of the James Beard Foundation Award

James Beard Foundation Award Logo

The James Beard Foundation Award is handed out to food and beverage professionals of all mediums who have achieved notable excellence within their craft. Referred to as “The Oscars of the food world” by Time magazine, this awards ceremony is presented each spring at the Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City. Nominations are made to the James Beard Foundation through an online open call in the fall.

The Restaurant and Chef James Beard Foundation Awards

The restaurant and chef awards focus on excellence within each specified category. These categories include a series of individual awards for chefs, restaurateurs, beverage specialists and up-and-comers that are recognized as the best in the nation. Additionally, regional awards are given to chefs who excel in their particular region of the United States. Chef and restaurateurs may also receive an induction into the James Beard Foundation’s list of Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America.

Regional Awards

Regional chefs are recognized across the United Sates with awards for the Best Chefs in America. Candidates, who are presently working as chefs, have at least five years’ experience – with the three most recent years being in the region of nomination, are eligible for this award.

These regions are broken down by the following regions:

  • The Great Lakes: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio
  • The Mid-Atlantic: Washington D.C., Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia
  • The Midwest: Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin
  • New York City: All Five Boroughs
  • Northeast: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New York State, Rhode Island and Vermont
  • Northwest: Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming
  • Pacific: California and Hawaii
  • South: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana and Missouri
  • Southeast: Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia
  • Southwest: Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah

Special Recognition

The America’s Classics Awards are for locally-owned restaurants that exhibit timeless appeal and reflect their community’s character. Establishments eligible for this award must be locally owned and must have been in existence for at least 10 years.

When a restaurant or chef is nominated for this high-profile reward, recognition will follow. A James Beard Foundation Award nomination provides restaurants or chefs, who may have only been known locally, with a chance of being plucked from obscurity and placed into the national spotlight. This level of recognition for a restaurant or chef creates a higher demand for the product or talent, increasing opportunity, raising profits and opening doors for further ventures or restaurant expansion.

Read more about how to nominate a food and beverage establishment or professional at the James Beard Foundation site.

Photo by Dan Wynn via


About Author

Maggie Henderson

Maggie once gained five pounds in pursuit of the perfect Indian dal recipe. When she isn't cooking, she spends her days as a marketer and her nights and weekends blogging, taking pictures and chasing after her son and dog.

Leave A Reply