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Kris Moon Creates a Better Food World with the James Beard Foundation

Photo: Fortunato M. Ramin, courtesy of the James Beard Foundation

Photo: Fortunato M. Ramin, courtesy of the James Beard Foundation

The James Beard Foundation was established as a nonprofit organization more than 30 years ago in honor of Beard and his lasting impact on an entire generation of chefs.

A pioneer for modern-day food television personalities, American Chef James Beard was one of the first hosts of a food program in 1946. The James Beard Foundation was established as a nonprofit organization in honor of Beard and his lasting impact on the foodies of the world after his passing in 1985.

“During his life, he wrote more than 24 cookbooks, and he was the first one in this country who was talking about what American food actually is at a time when Julia Child, who was a very good friend of his, was talking about French cuisine,” says James Beard Foundation President and Chief Operating Officer Kris Moon.

Moon says that Beard’s culinary impact was so vast that Julia Child and other colleagues of Beard came together to save his West Village home in Manhattan

Photo: Jeffrey Gurwin Photography, courtesy of the James Beard Foundation

Photo: Jeffrey Gurwin Photography, courtesy of the James Beard Foundation

“They raised the money for the down payment, purchased the brownstone, which is known as the James Beard House, and formed the James Beard Foundation as a place to celebrate and further the culinary arts in America.”

Today, the James Beard Foundation offers the finest culinary news to the foodie community with the mission to “celebrate, support, and elevate the people behind America’s food culture and champion a standard of good food anchored in talent, equity, and sustainability.”

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“During his life, he wrote more than 24 cookbooks, and he was the first one in this country who was talking about what American food actually is — at a time when Julia Child, who was a very good friend of his, was talking about French cuisine.”

James Beard Foundation President and Chief Operating Officer Kris Moon

“There’s been quite an evolution in the James Beard Foundation, and about a decade ago, we added a whole suite of programs that are really focused on how the culinary industry could help create a better food world,” says Moon. 

“Looking at environmental sustainability, looking at gender, I’m looking at supply chain, sourcing of ingredients and, importantly, how the chef community, now that they have this platform and this voice, how their staff community could be trained and inspired.”

“It's a huge honor and something that grew to be known as the Carnegie Hall for chefs, as it was dubbed over time. It’s a really beautiful snapshot of what was happening in food in America."

Photo: Jeffrey Gurwin Photography, courtesy of the James Beard Foundation

Photo: Jeffrey Gurwin Photography, courtesy of the James Beard Foundation

To help restaurants improve their sustainability, the James Beard Foundation started a program called Smart Catch that allows chefs to evaluate their seafood sourcing and then pairs them with the seafood advisory team who helps move them to more sustainable options.

In addition to helping restaurants hit their mark on sustainability, the nonprofit organization highlights ‘performances’ at the James Beard House featuring renowned chefs from all over the country, as a celebration of culinary arts.

Photo: Jeffrey Gurwin Photography, courtesy of the James Beard Foundation

Photo: Jeffrey Gurwin Photography, courtesy of the James Beard Foundation

“A different chef, as many as 200 nights a year, would come and perform at the James Beard House to really showcase their cuisine and their view on American food,” says Moon. “It’s a huge honor and something that grew to be known as the Carnegie Hall for chefs, as it was dubbed over time. It’s a really beautiful snapshot of what was happening in food in America.”

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The Beard Awards shines a positive spotlight on the experienced, hard working chefs in the industry, and the James Beard Foundation also continues to support and encourage young chefs through a culinary scholarship started in the early 90s.

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