James Beard Foundation Announces 2017 Honorees



James Beard Foundation Announces 2017 HonoreesThe James Beard Foundation announced today that Nora Pouillon, restaurateur, author, and the first American chef to open a certified organic restaurant, has been named the recipient of the 2017 James Beard Lifetime Achievement award, and Denise Cerreta, founder of One World Everybody Eats (OWEE), has been named the recipient of the 2017 James Beard Humanitarian of the Year award. The Lifetime Achievement award is bestowed upon a person in the industry whose lifetime body of work has had a positive and long-lasting impact on the way we eat, cook, and think about food in America. The Humanitarian of the Year award is given to an individual or organization whose work in the realm of food has improved the lives of others and benefited society at large. Nora Pouillon and Denise Cerreta will be honored at this year’s James Beard Foundation Awards on Monday, May 1, 2017, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

“The two women we honor this year are positively inspiring game changers in our culinary world,” said Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation. “As the first chef to open an all-organic restaurant over 38 years ago, Nora has truly impacted the way people and the industry think about the food we eat. Denise’s pay-what-you-can community cafes are transforming the way community restaurants can help others who can’t afford dining out to enjoy a healthy, good meal. We look forward to honoring the powerful work they’re doing to create a better food system.”

As a pioneer and champion of certified organic, environmentally conscious cuisine, Nora Pouillon has been promoting a healthier lifestyle since arriving in the U.S. in the 1960s from Vienna, Austria. Relying on her extensive network of natural and organic farmers, Nora began to purchase her produce for her cooking classes and catering business directly from the source. In 1979, Nora opened her namesake restaurant in Washington, D.C., Restaurant Nora, and in 1999 it became the first certified organic restaurant in the United States. Nora is also credited with initiating D.C.’s first producer-only farmer’s market, called FRESHFARM Markets, and jumpstarting the farm-to-table movement in the area. Nora has consulted and developed recipes for Walnut Acres and Whole Foods, and is a partner in Blue Circle Fruits, a supplier of fresh and frozen sustainable seafood. Nora is the author of Cooking with Nora, a seasonal menu cookbook that was a finalist for the Julia Child Cookbook Award, and her memoir, My Organic Life: How A Pioneering Chef Changed the Way We Eat Today, was published in 2015. Today, Nora continues to be an active participant in several environmental causes and tirelessly advocates for a sustainable, health-focused lifestyle based on the premise that you are what you eat, drink, and breathe. She is in the board of Earth Day Network, the Environmental Film Festival, Fresh Farm Markets, the Ocean Foundation, and the Amazon Conservation Team. Nora is on the advisory board of Wholesome Wave and Rachel’s Network.

“I am honored to receive the Lifetime Achievement award,” said Nora. “When I had the pleasure of hosting James Beard at my restaurant he encouraged me to continue with my style of cooking. I would like to thank my two business partners, Steven and Thomas Damato, who helped make my dream a reality. I am grateful to my team for the last 38 years of hard work. My hope is this award will inspire chefs to continue with my mission of being good stewards of the environment while making delicious organic food.”

The 2017 Humanitarian of the Year award recipient, Denise Cerreta, transformed her career from café owner to philanthropist and social entrepreneur with the creation of One World Café. She is the founder of One World Everybody Eats (OWEE), a simple pay-what-you-can idea that has grown into a globally recognized non-profit. A single moment at her café, one that she calls her ‘Field of Dreams’ experience, inspired her to personally change how the world views and combats hunger. She realized that one in six Americans—50 million people—are food insecure, meaning families and individuals are accessing emergency food pantries, even scavenging or stealing, to meet their nutrition needs. To address this issue, OWEE offers an innovative, pay-what-you-can business model that helps communities alleviate hunger at the local level.

Denise now leads the OWEE board of directors, oversees 65 cafes around the world that have collectively served 2 million meals, and continues to support the ongoing expansion of OWEE while forging new relationships with creative people in small communities as well as on the world stage. As the founder of OWEE, Denise also hosts the annual One World Summit, which aims to support and inspire café owners and the public to end world hunger through a roster of inspired speakers who tell their unique stories.

“I am so surprised and honored to have received the James Beard Humanitarian Award,” said Denise. “I never would have believed something like this could happen to me in a million years. I will gratefully accept this award on behalf of all the visionary café owners, their communities and the board members who have dedicated so much to even make this possible. My hope is that this recognition will fertilize the seed in the hearts of others who also want to eliminate hunger.”

Established in 1990, the James Beard Awards recognize culinary professionals for excellence and achievement in their fields and further the Foundation’s mission to celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders making America’s food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone. Each award category has an individual committee made up of industry professionals who volunteer their time to oversee the policies, procedures, and selection of judges for their respective Awards program. All JBF Award winners receive a certificate and a medallion engraved with the James Beard Foundation Awards insignia. There are no cash prizes.

The James Beard Foundation Awards Gala will be held at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on Monday, May 1, 2017. During the event, which is open to the public, awards for the Restaurant and Chef and Restaurant Design categories will be handed out, along with special achievement awards Humanitarian of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, Design Icon, Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America, and America’s Classics. A gala reception will immediately follow, featuring top chefs and beverage professionals from across the country.

The 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards are proudly hosted by Choose Chicago and presented in association with the Chicago Department of Aviation, HMSHost, the Illinois Restaurant Association and Mariano’s as well as the following partners: Premier Sponsors: All-Clad Metalcrafters, American Airlines, True Refrigeration®; Supporting Sponsors: Acqua Panna® Natural Spring Water, Breville, Robert Mondavi Winery, S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water, Valrhona; Gala Reception Sponsors: Ecolab; with additional support from: Chefwear.

About the James Beard Foundation (JBF)

Founded in 1986, the James Beard Foundation celebrates, nurtures, and honors 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. For more information, please visit jamesbeard.org. Get food news, recipes, and more at the James Beard Foundation’s blog, or subscribe to the free digital newsletter Beard Bites. Follow @beardfoundation on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat. Watch the James Beard House Kitchen Cam, James Beard Awards, and more on the Foundation’s Livestream channel. Find more JBF-related video on the Foundation’s YouTube channels.