In a statement, the organization believed that “the assignment of awards will do little to further the industry in its current uphill battle.”
This year’s ceremony, which will be broadcast Sept. 25 on Twitter from Chicago, will honor businesses and individuals in previously announced categories, such as America’s Classics, Lifetime Achievement, Humanitarian of the Year, Design Icon, and Leadership Awards. Many nominees will be featured in what the foundation called “a night of storytelling surrounding the historic challenges this community faces and how we can work together to rebuild a stronger and more equitable restaurant industry.”
“The uncertainty of this time for our industry is already a hard reality and considering anyone to have won or lost within the current tumultuous hospitality ecosystem does not in fact feel like the right thing to do,” said Beard CEO Clare Reichenbach.
Philadelphia’s Kalaya, a Thai BYOB on the edge of the Italian Market, was one of the 2020′s nominees for best new restaurant. Marc Vetri, who owns Vetri Cucina in Center City and Fiorella in the Italian Market as well as a Vetri in Las Vegas, was a nominee for outstanding chef. Philadelphia also had three chefs in the hunt for best chef, Mid-Atlantic: Rich Landau (Vedge, V Street), Nicholas Elmi (Laurel, ITV, Royal Boucherie), and Cristina Martinez (South Philly Barbacoa, Casa Mexico).
The foundation also said it was reviewing biases within the awards to align them with the foundation’s mission, which promotes sustainability, equity, and diversity in the restaurant industry.
Since the awards recognize work done during the previous calendar year, “any intent to hold a ceremony in 2021 based on 2020 work would be unfair and misguided, taking into account the unprecedented hardships which restaurants and potential nominees faced this year,” the foundation said. “Instead, the 2021 ceremony [which will be in May] will be a celebration of the independent restaurant community who have shown leadership during this crisis and honoring those who have made a significant impact on the industry and in their communities.”
The foundation said its awards committee and subcommittees, made up of volunteers, will work with the foundation and an outside social-justice agency to overhaul policies and procedures for the awards in a bid to remove systemic bias, increase the diversity of the pool of candidates, and maintain relevance.