James Beard Award

The James Beard Foundation of New York City is changing its regional categories for the 2020 awards.

In a release, the foundation said it is expanding from 10 to 12 regional categories and re-configuring certain states, all to recognize changing population data, restaurant demographics and culinary trends.

“The national restaurant scene and the populations that fuel it are constantly shifting,” James Beard Foundation chief strategy officer Mitchell Davis said in the release. “We understand that as a Foundation, we must continually adapt to serve our community as fairly as possible."

Every few years, the foundation contracts with demographic consultants to stay updated with the shifting restaurant landscape of the country.

The South, Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest and Great Lakes regions will not change.

Here's what will change:

  • California will be removed from the West region and become its own regional category.
  • The West and Northwest categories will be partially combined into a new Northwest & Pacific category which will now consist of Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington.
  • The remaining states from the former Northwest category will join Colorado in the newly minted Mountain category, which will consist fully of Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming.
  • Texas will become its own regional category.
  • The Southwest, having lost Texas and Colorado to the redistricting, will now consist of Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Nevada, the latter which joins from its previous West status.
  • New York City, the five boroughs which have been a standalone category since the inception of the awards, will now be joined with the rest of New York State, formerly part of the Northeast, to form the New York State region, encompassing the city and the state in its entirety.
  • The remaining Northeast category remains the same minus New York, and now consists fully of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

The changes will go into effect in advance of the October 1 open recommendation period for the 2020 Awards.

The regional category changes affect not only those considered for the awards themselves, but also the governing bodies that oversee the Awards process. The new regions will also affect the number of America’s Classics honorees, going from five to six that represent half of the regions and alternate each year..

The Foundation invites the public to ask questions about the recent redistricting and engage with general questions about the upcoming 2020 Awards via a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) set to take place with Davis at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday. Find the AMA thread at www.reddit.com/user/beardfoundation.

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