James Beard Foundation Pushes For Diversity In Culinary Arts

Jake Neher/WDET

The James Beard awards are among the most prestigious in culinary arts, but for years, they have also struggled to recognize chefs who aren’t white, and male.

The foundation has launched an effort to diversify the pool of award recipients, and better reflect the wonderful mix of cultures you scene in the restaurant scenes in cities across the nation.

Mark Kurlyandchik writes in the Free Press:

A historic number of women and chefs of color took home medals at last year’s James Beard Foundation Awards, nicknamed “the Oscars of food” and widely considered to be among the top prizes in the American food world.

But handing out awards does little to address the systemic changes necessary in an industry grappling with pervasive abuse and issues of diversity and inclusion, says Mitchell Davis, the foundation’s chief strategy officer.

In light of the #MeToo movement, the foundation sent directives last year to its judges to include a nominee’s character in their decision-making.

Now the influential organization is taking additional steps to address the inequality found across America’s kitchens and in food writing circles. Among other changes, its volunteer committees and judges will now be required to, at the very least, reflect the demographic makeup of the country

Tonight Kurlyandchik will take place in a panel discussion about James Beard’s efforts along with Mitchel Davis from the foundation, Tunde Wey, a chef and writer with Urban Consulate, and FoodLab executive director Devita Davison. The panel will take place at the Scarab Club from 6 pm - 8 pm. 

Image credit: Via Facebook

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