James Beard Foundation Anoints Philadelphia As Its First Year-Round Partner City

James Beard Awards 2020 Philadelphia
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The James Beard Foundation’s (JBF) has announced  that Philadelphia will host this year’s ceremony to reveal nominees for the foundation’s prized national culinary awards. As part of a unique new partnership between the Visit Philly destination marketing agency and the Manhattan-based foundation that aims to promote food-driven travel to Philadelphia, the city will integrate its cultural institutions into the foodie-friendly initiative, and one will even contain a cooking component for kids.

The move adds another layer to an already rich, first-of-its kind arrangement that has the most prestigious food-related non-profit in the U.S. basically giving its stamp of approval to the restaurant scene in Greater Philadelphia. Though sometimes Philly feels overlooked by the awards committee, as well as by the world’s dining glitterati, it does boast the 2019 James Beard Outstanding Restaurant award winner, the 2018 Rising Star Chef of the Year, the 2017 Best Chef and Best Restaurateur winners, plus more than 240 other winners and nominees working in the area’s restaurants, bars and bakeries.

“What this does is have Philadelphia stand out not just as a foodie town but as a James Beard foodie town,” added Jeff Guaracino, President/CEO of Visit Philadelphia. “This is the lens of how we’re now telling the story of Philadelphia’s food scene.”

Throughout 2020, the foundation will host Philly-centric dinners at its headquarters in New York City, such as member and ticketed dinners cooked by Southeastern Pennsylvania chefs, and Philadelphia will boost that signal by programming its own food-marketing promotions elsewhere in the Big Apple. In turn, Philly is hosting an on-the-ground series of events to spotlight its best toques.

Perhaps most notably, the new James Beard Restaurant Collective will present dining, educational and meet-and-greet opportunities with selected restaurant personnel at their own restaurants in August. Leading up to the Collective activities, Philadelphia will host the foundation’s ballyhooed nominees announcement (for the second time since 2018) at the Barnes Foundation art museum on March 25, along with hosting a pop-up dinner at Center City’s Spice Finch restaurant in April as part of the multi-city Taste America fundraiser.

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“Given the impressive concentration of James Beard Award winners and other incredible culinary talent in Philadelphia, the partnership between Visit Philadelphia and the James Beard Foundation couldn’t be more natural,” said James Beard CEO Clare Reichenbach.  “We are thrilled to grow our partnership with VISIT PHILADELPHIA as they promote a city that’s a top culinary destination for food lovers in the U.S. and around the world.”

Guaracino adds, “By having these Philadelphia-themed events we’re saying, ‘Why don’t you come try out some of our great breakfasts, lunches, dinners, bakeries, and cocktails? Now that you’ve had a sample come do it all year long.’”

The idea formed over a New York breakfast between Guaracino and Reichenbach, who realized the two organizations could reinforce their mutually shared values to support and empower community-conscious local food professionals, diners and travelers to use their platforms and their spending dollars for good.

With women’s leadership programs “aimed at addressing the gender imbalance in the culinary industry” constituting a signature Beard initiative, it fits that Visit Philly will also weave its 2020 campaign to target female travelers into restaurant collective events along with hosting a special all-women-in-the-kitchen dinner at the Beard House in June. The city’s temporary moniker highlights women’s contributions to Philadelphia cuisine and culture and shows that in 2020 and beyond, Philadelphia isn’t just the city of brotherly love but The City of Sisterly Love, as well.

  • DAVO Sales Tax
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  • Red Gold
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  • Imperial Dade