The James Beard Foundation announced Monday the finalists for its 2020 awards, celebrating outstanding performances in the restaurant world in 2019. The foundation is a New York-based nonprofit dedicated to promoting the culinary arts nationwide.
COVID-19 has created pressure on the restaurant community. Many businesses have struggled under the economic strain caused by the quarantine. In solidarity with these restaurants, the foundation says that it has donated more than $4 million to relieve independent, locally owned companies.
This year would have marked the 30th anniversary of the foundation's staging of a formal awards ceremony in Chicago. However, because of social distancing, a physical ceremony will not take place. In lieu of one, the announcement of the award winners will be livestreamed on Twitter instead. The foundation went ahead and shared its nominations for exemplary individual chefs and restaurants. Ten New Orleans names made it on the shortlist (including a virtual sweep of the Best Southern Chef category). The New Orleans-based nominees are:
Best Chef: South (AL, AR, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, FL, LA, MS)
Kristen Essig and Michael Stoltzfus, Coquette
Michael Gulotta, Maypop
Mason Hereford, Turkey and the Wolf
Isaac Toups, Toups' Meatery
Best New Restaurant
Graison Gill, Bellegarde Bakery
Donald Link, Herbsaint
JoAnn Clevenger, Upperline Restaurant
Outstanding Wine Program
Final awards decisions will take place on September 25, 2020. The James Beard Foundation's Twitter account will also handle those announcements.