The James Beard Foundation’s mission is to celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders making America's food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone.
A cookbook author and teacher with an encyclopedic knowledge about food, the late James Beard was a champion of American cuisine. He helped educate and mentor generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts, instilling in them the value of wholesome, healthful, and delicious food. Today JBF continues in the same spirit by administering a number of diverse programs that include educational initiatives, food industry awards, scholarships for culinary students, publications, chef advocacy training, and thought-leader convening.
The Foundation also maintains the historic James Beard House in New York City’s Greenwich Village as a “performance space” for visiting chefs.
The James Beard Foundation is a national not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization based in New York City.
A dedicated staff, a strong board of trustees, a diverse membership, hundreds of volunteers, and the sheer force of James Beard’s personality and passions have propelled the James Beard Foundation to the forefront of American gastronomy.
After James Beard’s death in 1985, a group of his friends and colleagues led by cooking school founder Peter Kump heeded a call from Julia Child to do something with Beard’s house. While he was alive, Beard always welcomed students, authors, chefs, and other food and beverage professionals into his home—his kitchen was truly at the heart of America’s burgeoning 20th century food scene. Kump organized a fundraising campaign to raise the downpayment to purchase the Greenwich Village townhouse from Beard’s estate, which was held by Reed College.
On November 5, 1986, the James Beard Foundation officially opened the James Beard House “to provide a center for the culinary arts and to continue to foster the interest James Beard inspired in all aspects of food, its preparation presentation, and of course, enjoyment,” according to a press release issued that day. Calvin Trillin presided over an opening ceremony that welcomed Jacques Pépin, Judith Jones, Larry Forgione and other culinary world luminaries who had been touched and inspired by Beard.
Although the mission of the organization would evolve over the years, Kump, who had founded a theater troupe in a previous career, initially envisioned the Beard House as a performance space for chefs. On February 1, 1987, Kump wrote a thank you note to an influential young chef working in California who was generous enough to cook a dinner at the Beard House to help the new organization raise some money. “Dear Wolf,” Kump wrote to Wolfgang Puck, “When you initially suggested coming out and cooking a dinner here it gave us the idea for starting this as a monthly event. First of all, it is a good way for the Foundation to bring in regular funds. Second, it also performs a very valuable service to their members and the food community: for the first time the great chefs from outside the New York Metropolitan area can come here, allowing them to experience their food fully rather than just a taste in a party atmosphere. Finally, it starts a tradition for showcasing new chefs who have not yet received recognition.”
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