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James Beard Foundation won’t announce award winners for 2020

In a surprise move, the James Beard Foundation announced no winners will be announced at the organization’s awards program that was moved to Friday, September 25.

The JBF cites the coronavirus pandemic as the reason for this first in the awards’ 30-year history. “…Substantial and sustained upheaval in the community has created an environment in which the foundation believes the assignment of awards will do little to further the industry in its current uphill battle,” the organization says.

Instead, the organization will celebrate the honorees in a Twitter broadcast from Chicago, still scheduled on September 25. Semifinalists were announced on February 27 and, within weeks, as the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged America’s restaurant community, the foundation postponed its nominations announcements and it awards gala, originally scheduled for May 4. The foundation also decided to forgo its traditional awards in 2021.

The James Beard Foundation nominated chefs Dan Krohmer and James Trees for its prestigious Best Chef Southwest award, chosen by judges across the country.

Krohmer’s Japanese-influenced seafood restaurant Other Mama in Spring Valley and Trees’ Italian restaurant Esther’s Kitchen in the Arts District were up against Jonathan Perno’s creations at Campo at Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico, and three Arizona restaurants, chef Chrysa Robertson’s Rancho Pinot in Scottsdale, the Elote Cafe in Sedona helmed by Jeff Smedstad, and Silvana Salcido Esparza at the Barrio Café Gran Reserva in Phoenix.

The original list of 20 nominees for Best Chef Southwest included chef Nicole Brisson, formerly with Locale Italian Kitchen, and chef Alan Ji at Mott 32 at the Palazzo.

Marc Vetri of Vetri Cucina in Philadelphia, with a location at the Palms, is a finalist for Outstanding Chef. He recently opened Osteria Fiorella as a popup restaurant at Red Rock Resort while the Palms remains closed.

This year debuted the newly aligned southwest region that moved Nevada out of direct competition with the voluminous options on the West Coast to join Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.

Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Awards.

• Here Are the 2020 James Beard Awards Restaurant, Chef, and Media Finalists [Eater]

• The 2020 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards Postponed Until September [Eater]

• Four Las Vegas Chefs Compete for James Beard Foundation Awards [ELV]

• Here Are the 2020 James Beard Awards Restaurant and Chef Semifinalists [ELV]

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