SUPPORTING EMERGING CHEFS: WORKING WITH JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION FELLOWS
By Georgette Farkas
If you’ve had the privilege of attending the James Beard Foundation Awards, you’re familiar with their reputation as the “Oscars” of the culinary world. Yet the Foundation’s mission has evolved well beyond hosting the glamorous annual gala. Today JBF works to support and elevate the people behind America’s food culture, championing a standard of good food anchored in talent, equity, and sustainability. Like the James Beard Foundation, Great Performances appreciates the value of a glittering event, but is equally engaged in nurturing the culinary community. We have worked with the JBF for years, and since the spring of 2021, we have partnered with their new Fellows Program, providing professional development for emerging chefs. The program recruits candidates through the Food Education Fund, a New York City based non-profit enriching the lives and education of culinary focused public high school students and alumni. They are drawn from communities often underrepresented among America’s chefs. The program complements their culinary know how with essential training in finance, small business management, legal advice, wine knowledge, media training and personal brand development.
The Great Performances culinary team mentors the JBF Fellows in creating their Beard Boxes, the final challenge they face in completing the program. This is a dinner menu kit shipped to JBF supporters across America. We guide each fellow in adapting their menu to the rigors of a professional kitchen, working with them in selecting seasonal ingredients, scaling their recipes, and finally preparing and packaging their food. It has been an inspiration to support these highly motivated young professionals. We find we learn as much from them as they do from us. It is our pleasure to share some of their stories with you.
We would like to acknowledge CAPITAL ONE as the presenting Sponsor of the James Beard House Fellows Program.