James Beard Award Nominations made, but criminals and harassers are not on the list

Prestigious food award now has a morality clause

Foodies of the world are filled with delight and awe as the James Beard Foundation just put out their list of more than 400 semifinalists for the annual award that is one of the most prestigious awards a chef can get.

However, this year is a bit different. The behavior of the chefs in question came into play when making the nominations.

Chefs who have broken the law in violent or destructive ways, have been accused of sexual harassment or assault are not included.

The New York Times reported that what’s on the plate and how a dining room executes service, are only part of the requirements to getting a much-sought-after nomination and that contenders must also possess “the values of respect, transparency, diversity, sustainability and equality.”

Chef’s who have previously won James Beard Awards, but have been accused of bad behavior or sexual harassment have been barred from voting in future nominations and some people are still asking the foundation to strip them of their medals.

James Beard Foundation Medal

Also, in showing that the James Beard Foundation is sensitive to the ongoing dialogue concerning inclusion and fairness, this year’s list also includes more women.  In fact, 40 percent of the nominees are women.  That is up from 27 percent last year.

This foundation does not track race in the nominees, however, the variety of restaurants included definitely has a diverse air to it as noodle shops and BBQ pits are nominated alongside fancy eateries.

There were more than 23,000 nominations from restaurants, regional judges and the public that were narrowed down to 400 by a committee of 18 food writers, editors and producers who met in Honolulu last month to create the semi-finalist list.

The James Beard Foundation winners will be announced and receive their medals at a gala in May. More information can be found here.

Do you think a chef or restaurant should be judged solely on the food and service or do you think that the behavior of the people involved should be taken into account? Tell us below and then click next to see the full list of nominees!

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Michelle Tompkins

Michelle Tompkins is an award-winning media, PR and crisis communications professional with more than ten years experience with coverage in virtually every traditional and new media outlet. She is currently a communications and media strategist and writer, as well as the author of College Prowler: Guidebook for Columbia University. She served as the Media Relations Manager for the Girl Scouts of the USA where she managed all media and talking points, created social media strategy, trained executives and donors and served as the organization’s primary spokesperson, participating in daily interviews with local, regional, and national media outlets. She managed the media for the Let Me Know internet safety and Cyberbullying prevention campaign with Microsoft, as well as Girl Scouts’ centennial Year of the Girl To Get Her There celebration in 2012, which yielded more than 800 million earned media impressions. In addition to her extensive media experience, Michelle worked as a talent agent in Los Angeles, California, as well contracting as a digital content developer and her writing has appeared in newspapers and online. She is passionate about television, theater, classic movies, all things food and in-home entertaining. While she has lived and worked in NYC for more than a decade, she is from suburban Sacramento and gets back there often to watch the San Francisco Giants on TV with her family.

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