The James Beard Foundation announced the recipients of the 2021 National Scholars Program. Established in 2016, the National Scholars Program provides scholarships of $20,000 each to 12 food-focused individuals who plan to pursue an education in the culinary arts, food studies, agriculture, hospitality management, and other related fields. It was the committee’s intent to select a group of scholars who represented diversity in many ways – from gender and racial diversity to diversity in areas of study and career ambition. To ensure regional diversity, one awardee is selected from each of the 12 geographic regions defined by the James Beard Foundation Awards. Those regions include California, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Mountain, New York State, Northeast, Northwest & Pacific, South, Southeast, Southwest, and Texas.

The 2021 JBF National Scholars are:

  • Holden Dahlerbruch (Rancho Palos Verdes, CA): Dahlerbruch is double-majoring in international relations and interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in culinary history, culture, and entrepreneurship at Tufts University. After starring on two seasons of FYI’s “Man vs. Child: Chef Showdown,” Dahlerbruch founded his own company, Culinary Playgrounds, developed four pop-up restaurants, and staged in restaurants and food trucks across the country. Dahlerbruch plans to go on to law school with the hope of becoming a culinary lawyer.
  • Julia Fine (Boston): Fine is continuing to study the intersection of culinary and imperial history at Boston University.
  • Robbin Gheesling (Wichita, KS): Gheesling will further pursue her research on the wine doors of Florence at Middlebury College. To culminate her studies, Gheesling will produce two works: an academic-level text on the creation, use, and societal effects of the wine doors, and a guidebook filled with photography and self-guided maps for travelers.
  • Anna Gruvberger (Hinsdale, IL): Gruvberger is studying at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. She has worked with Hotel Ezra Cornell (HEC) and Cornell Real Estate Club (CREC) and was selected to be a mentor for CREC next year. Her goal is to create sensory and imaginative dining experiences.
  • Abby Katz (New York City): Katz is earning her master’s degree in food studies with a focus on food policy and history at New York University. She plans to pursue her doctorate in food policy, history, and health equity in the years to come.
  • Kavita Malstead (Boston): Malstead is pursuing a Masters of Gastronomy degree in world food cultures and mobility at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy. There, she will be exploring the relationship between diasporic identity and culinary tradition from an interdisciplinary perspective. Malstead plans to continue her career as a food anthropologist, focusing on the values of cultural diversity, food sovereignty, and justice.
  • Jordan Montoya (Taos, NM): Montoya will be working toward a Bachelor of Professional Studies in Culinary Science at the Culinary Institute of America. He hopes to work in food research and development.
  • Melvin Nguyen (Boston): Nguyen will be pursuing a Master of Liberal Arts in Gastronomy at Boston University. He plans to study the intersectionality of food waste and insecurity through a policy and advocacy concentration. His goal is to become an advocate for equity in career and technical school systems.
  • Frances Quinton (Austin): Quinton is attending Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. Quinton is inspired by simplistic, fresh, and inspiring farm-to-table cuisine, and it is her ambition to become a fine-dining chef.
  • Wiley Reid (Tacoma, WA): Reid will be pursuing a Masters in International Peace and Conflict Resolution degree at American University. Interested in the relationship between ecology and conflict, Reid seeks to evaluate the ways in which sustainable food systems may promote positive outcomes for global peacebuilding and prevent key regions from destabilizing into states of armed conflict.
  • Isaac Upthegrove (Port Austin, MI): Upthegrove is attending the Culinary Institute of America to pursue a degree in applied food studies.
  • Jamie Waters (San Francisco): Waters will attend the six-month pastry and baking program at the San Francisco Cooking School. During the pandemic, Waters turned her baking hobby into a small business to earn money. She is looking forward to expanding her knowledge in baking and the vast array of pastries.

To learn more about the National Scholars program and other James Beard Foundation scholarships, visit

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.