James Beard Foundation Announces Kwame Onwuachi to Host 2021 James Beard Awards: Stories of Resilience and Leadership

The James Beard Foundation announced 2019 James Beard Rising Star Chef Award winner Kwame Onwuachi will host the 2021 James Beard Awards: Stories of Resilience and Leadership, taking place in the host city of Chicago and additional satellite cities on Monday, September 27.  This broadcast event will celebrate and honor the independent restaurant community and those who have made a significant impact on the industry.


Along with additional presenters and musical performances, the broadcast will include video features from community members across the country and highlight inspiring stories of passion, community, innovation, resilience, and leadership under the extreme conditions of the past 18 months. Those being featured are representative of so many in the industry who played and continue to play a part in supporting their local communities and the industry.


Onwuachi, along with Clare Reichenbach, CEO of the James Beard Foundation will be joined by the following presenters from the food and beverage community:

  • Chef Monti Carlo of Food Network’s Help my Yelp from Chicago, joined by the James Beard House Fellows
  • Edward Lee, Chef/Owner of 610 Magnolia and James Beard Book Award winner for Writing
  • Stephen Satterfield, Food Writer, Producer, and Host of 2021 Netflix docu-series High on the Hog: How American Cuisine Transformed America
  • Tanya Holland, JBF Awards Committee Chair and board member, Award-winning chef, author, and restaurateur from Oakland, CA


Special musical guest performances live from Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia will also be broadcast and will include Chicago Blues Royalty and Chicago’s Own

Wayne Baker Brooks brought to us by Choose Chicago; Demola the Violinist joined by the Houston Ballet II, ballerina Lauren Anderson and a host of cultural performers, brought to us by Houston First Corporation; and vocalist Laurin Talese, brought to us by Visit Philadelphia.


Additionally, viewers joining the celebration from home will have the chance to preorder an Awards watch party kit curated by emerging chefs who have been a part of the reinvention of the James Beard House, the 2021 James Beard House Fellows: Mimi Chen, Theodore Coleman, Sofia Mendoza, and Nicole Merino. Party kits will include signature bites from each Fellow and will be available here for purchase from September 8 through September 16 for $155.00 per box that caters for 4 people. Party kits will be shipped to guests to arrive by Saturday, September 25. Capital One cardholders who purchase an Access Pass will receive a party kit and additional exclusive gift, courtesy of Capital One.


The broadcast will be aired on Twitter (@beardfoundation) using the hashtag #jbfa from the host city of Chicago, on September 27th at 7 P.M. CT / 8 P.M. ET / 5 P.M. PT.


In addition to the live broadcast, the Foundation will host guests outdoors atop the Harris Theater in Chicago to enjoy delicious bites while watching the broadcast. Simultaneously, small satellite events in select cities across the country will be hosted to tune in to the broadcast, including:

  • Houston at Lucille’s with Dawn Burrell, Chris Williams, and local host Houston First Corporation
  • Oakland at Town Fare by Tanya Holland at the Oakland Museum of California, hosted by JBF Awards Committee Chair and board member, Tanya Holland, and featuring Reem Assil of Reem’s California and Dominica Rice-Cisneros of Bombera
  • Philadelphia at SOUTH Restaurant & Jazz Kitchen with Ben Bynum, Stephanie Willis, local host Visit Philadelphia, and Food Editor at Philadelphia Inquirer and James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards committee chair, Jamila Robinson
  • Washington, D.C. at Moon Rabbit with Kevin Tien


The 2021 James Beard Awards: Stories of Resilience and Leadership are presented by Capital One, the official credit card and banking partner of the James Beard Foundation. Through this first-of-its-kind partnership, Capital One cardholders enjoy unique access to James Beard Foundation programming. The James Beard Awards are proudly hosted by Choose Chicago and the Illinois Restaurant Association and presented in association with Chicago O’Hare and Midway International Airports, as well as the following sponsors: Premier Sponsors: American Airlines, the official airline of the James Beard Foundation, Deloitte, S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water, Stella Artois; Supporting Sponsors: All-Clad Metalcrafters, Marriott Bonvoy®, National Restaurant Association®, Skuna Bay Salmon, White Claw® Hard Seltzer; Patron Sponsors: Ecolab, Kendall College at National Louis University, Lavazza, PeopleVine, Rocket Mortgage, Valrhona, and Windstar Cruises, the official cruise line of the James Beard Foundation, with additional support from Château d’Esclans, The Spire Collection, and VerTerra Dinnerware. Intersport is the Official Broadcast Partner of the 2021 James Beard Awards.


The James Beard Foundation previously announced that it would not be handing out awards in 2021 while the program underwent a review and renewal of policies and procedures, ensuring a more transparent, accessible, and equitable process for the future James Beard Awards. The audit results can be found here. The first post-audit James Beard Awards will take place in 2022.


Through the James Beard Foundation’s Open for Good campaign, the organization is working to provide critical resources to help the independent restaurant industry survive the COVID-19 crisis and come back stronger, more equitable, and more resilient. For information on the Foundation’s Open for Good campaign, please visit jamesbeard.org/openforgood.


News about the Awards will be regularly updated and posted to jamesbeard.org/awards and on the Foundation’s social channels (@beardfoundation on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #jbfa).



Maintaining a safe and healthy environment for our guests, chefs, and venue teams to experience our events is a top priority. The James Beard Foundation will adhere to city, state, and/or federal regulations along with the policy of our host restaurants and venues, which may include: wearing masks when not at your table, maintaining 3 feet of distance away from other guests, and/or providing proof of vaccination and/or proof of a negative COVID-19 test. All policies are subject to change. Guests attending James Beard Awards events will be alerted of the final policy in an email at least two (2) business days prior to the event date. The Foundation thanks their guests for their continued understanding and compliance with these measures for their safety and the safety of those around them.



About the James Beard Foundation

The James Beard Foundation celebrates and supports the people behind America’s food culture, while pushing for new standards in the restaurant industry to create a future where all have the opportunity to thrive. Established over 30 years ago, the Foundation has highlighted the centrality of food culture in our daily lives and is committed to supporting a resilient and flourishing industry that honors its diverse communities. By amplifying new voices, celebrating those leading the way, and supporting those on the path to do so, the Foundation is working to create a more equitable and sustainable future — what we call Good Food for Good™. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the James Beard Foundation launched the Open for Good campaign to ensure that independent restaurants not only survive, but that the industry is able to rebuild stronger than before. For more information, subscribe to the digital newsletter Beard Bites and follow @beardfoundation on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and  Clubhouse. The James Beard Foundation is a national not-for-profit 501c(3) organization based in New York City.


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