The 2017 James Beard Awards are just around the corner! The best and brightest in today’s food and restaurant industry will be honored tomorrow, during the Media Awards in New York City, and on Monday, May 1 at the Chef & Restaurant Awards Gala in Chicago. We are incredibly excited to celebrate the inspiring people making waves in the industry with their talent, innovation, and excellence.
Ahead of the awards, we tapped James Beard Foundation President Susan Ungaro for a conversation about developing trends, food and politics, and which chefs still leave her star-struck. Read on.
The James Beard Foundation recently announced the 2017 semifinalists. Any chefs or restaurateurs you were particularly excited to see recognized? Why?
The days we announce our semifinalists and nominees is a time we make some people very happy and that makes us all feel good about all the great talent in our food world. I am particularly delighted to see the number of women chefs and restaurateurs rising every year.
What are some of the trends you’re seeing among this year’s nominees – anything that stands out?
People all over the country have become more and more passionate about how a great meal out can really make their day—and everyone is talking, blogging and writing about it. We are noticing that talented chefs and restaurants are being recognized not only in the usual top 20 cities, but in smaller culinary gems of cities ,too. I especially enjoy seeing places I’ve not been to (but will) make the list, such as Oxford, Mississippi; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Essex, Maryland; Milton, Delaware and San Antonio, Texas.
What are you seeing this year in the industry at large that you’re excited about? New developments or evolutions?
The personality and celebrity of chefs just continues to grow with the focus on them in traditional media and social media, as well. We also are noticing that Americans don’t just think of dinner out as just a special occasion. In response, many award-winning restaurants are offering breakfast for the early birds, as well as lunch on their menus. [Read more…]