We are in the midst of the annual exercise in futility known as the James Beard Award’s open call for entry and recommendations for the 2024 awards. For Central Florida, it’s the culinary awards equivalent of Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown.
Previously, only members of the judging panel could recommend names to be considered for the various awards categories. But in recent years, the Beard Foundation opened this initial phase to the public. Yes, even you. All you have to do is go to the James Beard Awards website, register and make your recommendations before midnight on Nov. 30.
You’ll be asked to submit a short statement describing the impact of the restaurant or chef and how their work aligns with the foundation’s values of equity, transparency, respect, integrity, and community. Submissions may be made in writing, by audio recording or a short video. JBF fully expects that chefs will recommend themselves, it only asks that they do so in the first person. The names that make it to the list of semi finalists will still be the determination of the nominating committee, but you can still give it a shot.
Some categories of interest might include Outstanding Restaurant, Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program, Outstanding Hospitality, Outstanding Bakery, Outstanding Bar, or Best New Restaurant. Or Outstanding Chef, Emerging Chef, Best Regional Chef, Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker, or Outstanding Restaurateur.
For regional chef, Florida is in the South category. Last year, for the first time in the history of the awards, Kabooki Sushi’s Henry Moso advanced to the finals for Best Chef – South. With Central Florida achieving more culinary cred, including Michelin Guide ratings, maybe this will finally be our year.
But as a reminder, Lucy has never once allowed Charlie Brown to kick that ball.