James Beard Awards Process

JBF_AWARDS_MEDALLION-BLOGThe Beard Foundation will release the list of semi-finalists for this year’s awards program next week. While we wait to find out what Maine chefs and restaurants made the cut, I thought it would be good time to research how the Foundation selects nominees and pick the winners.

Here’s what the process looks like:

October 2015 The Beard Foundation put out an open call for the public to submit their suggestions. In 2014 35,000 entries were received.

Late 2015 250 regional panelists (25 for each of the 10 regions) submit their recommendations.

Early 2016 the Restaurant and Chefs Awards Committee review submissions from panelists and the public to select the strongest contenders in each category.

February 17 The “long list” of semi-final nominees is released.

February/March regional panelists, former award winners and committee members—about 600 people in all—vote. The top 5 entries in each category are become nominees. Ballots are sent out and votes are tabulated by the independent accounting firm Lutz & Carr.

March 15 the “short list” of nominees is released.

March/April A final ballot is conducted with the same group (panelists, winners, and committee members) to determine the winner in each of the categories.

May 2 the winners are announced at the Beard Awards Gala in Chicago.

There are a total of 21 restaurant and chef awards in 12 categories. Maine chefs and restaurants have been in the running every year for at least the past decade.

  • Outstanding Restaurateur
  • Outstanding Chef
  • Outstanding Restaurant
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year
  • Best New Restaurant
  • Outstanding Pastry Chef
  • Outstanding Baker
  • Outstanding Service
  • Outstanding Wines, Beer, or Spirits Professional
  • Outstanding Wine Program
  • Outstanding Bar Program
  • Best Chefs for each of the 10 Regions

For more information visit the Policies and Procedures page on the JBF website.

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