Because it's 2020, the James Beard Foundation announced Thursday that this year's awards ceremony, set for September 25, will not have any winners.
"The choice comes as restaurants continue to suffer the grave negative effects of Covid-19, and as 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," reads a statement on the JBF website.
Instead, previously announced honorees in the America's Classics, Lifetime Achievement, Humanitarian of the Year, Design Icon, and Leadership awards will be celebrated on a live Twitter stream from Chicago. Vera's Backyard Bar-B-Que in Brownsville is one of the America's Classics winners for 2020.
That means Houston nominees Anvil Bar & Refuge (Outstanding Bar Program finalist), and Anita Jaisinghani of Pondicheri and Trong Nguyen of Crawfish & Noodles (Best Chef Texas) will be considered 2020 finalists, no more and no less.
Also, there will be no James Beard awards in 2021, since they would be judging work done in 2020. Instead, the JBF will throw "a celebration of the independent restaurant community who have shown leadership during this crisis" and will be "honoring those who have made a significant impact on the industry and in their communities." That will happen in May 2021.
Finally, the JBF and its awards subcommittees will be working with an outside social justice agency to "overhaul the policies and procedures for the awards" with an aim at removing systemic bias and increasing the diversity of the candidate pool.
Now, back to your regularly scheduled 2020.