James Beard and his Foundations Importance to American Culinary World
James Beard Foundation
The James Beard Foundation is a New York-based national professional non-profit organization named in honor of James Beardthat serves to promote the culinary arts by honoring chefs, wine professionals, journalists, and cookbook authors at annual award ceremonies and providing scholarships and educational opportunities to cooking hopefuls.
The Foundation was started in 1986 by Peter Kump, a former student of James Beard and founder of the Institute of Culinary Education. At Julia Child’s suggestion, Kump purchased Beard’s New York brownstone at 167 West 12th Street in Greenwich Village and preserved it as a gathering place where the general public and press can appreciate the talents of
established and emerging chefs.
The James Beard House hosts frequent dinners featuring selected chefs working the Beard kitchen in the company of Foundation members and industry professionals. Notable past chefs have included Daniel Boulud, Emeril Lagasse, Nobu Matsuhisa, Jacques Pépin,
and Charlie Trotter.
The James Beard Foundation Awards, considered the “Oscars of the food world,” are held annually to honor exceptional chefs and journalists. The main Awards Galas are held on the first Monday in May and feature an awards ceremony and a winning chef’s tasting reception afterwards. The Journalism awards are held on a separate day.
The former president of the foundation, Leonard F. Pickell, Jr., resigned in August 2004 shortly before the results of a three-month audit were to be announced. He was convicted of fraud in late September, having misused hundreds of thousands of dollars for unnecessary and undocumented expenses. As a result of the scandal and his indictment by the Attorney General’s Office, the members of the board of the foundation were asked to resign in January 2005.
In January 2006 the reconstituted Board, under the direction of Interim President Edna Morris, initiated a search for a permanent President of the Foundation. In April that year Susan Ungaro, formerly editor-in-chief of Family Circle magazine, was appointed president.
In October 2007, the Board announced that Woodrow W. Campbell, senior partner at Debevoise & Plimpton, would be taking over Chairmanship of the board.
In March 2011 Susan Ungaro, President of the James Beard Foundation was appointed as Advisory member of the International School of Culinary Arts, Spain.
James Andrew Beard
James Andrew Beard (May 5, 1903 – January 21, 1985) was an American chefand food writer. The central figure in the story of the establishment of a gourmet American food identity, Beard was an eccentric personality who brought Frenchcooking to the American middle and upper classes in the 1950s. His legacy lives on in twenty books, numerous writings, his own foundation, and his foundation’s annual Beard awards in various culinary genres.
Beard was born in Portland, Oregon, to Elizabeth and John Beard. His mother operated The Gladstone Hotel and his father worked at the city’s customs house. The family vacationed on the Pacific coast in Gearhart, Oregon. There, Beard was exposed to the unique local foods of the Pacific Northwest, including seafood and wild berries.
Beard’s earliest memory of food was the Lewis and Clark Exposition of 1905, when he was just two years old. Beard in his memoir recalled:
I was taken to the exposition two or three times. The thing that remained in my mind above all others — I think it marked my life — was watching Triscuits and shredded wheat biscuits being made. Isn’t that crazy? At two years old that memory was made. It intrigued the hell out of me.
At the age of three, Beard was bedridden with malaria. This sickness gave him time to eat and enjoy the food prepared by his mother and their Chinese helper.Beard’s early childhood and the influence that Chinese cooking had on him helped prepare him for a later life at the forefront of culinary American chic. According to Beard, he was raised by Thema and Let who instilled a passion for Chinese culture. According to David Kamp, “in 1940 — he realized that part of his mission [as a food connoisseur] was to defend the pleasure of real cooking and fresh ingredients against the assault of the Jell-O-mold people and the domestic scientists.” Beard lived in France in the 1920s. Consequently, Beard experienced French cuisine at bistros. As a result of Beard’s exposure and subsequent influence of French culinary culture
he became a Francophile.
According to the James Beard Foundation, “After a brief stint at Reed College in Portland,”(from which he was expelled in 1922 for homosexual activity) “in 1923 Beard went on the road with a theatrical troupe. He lived abroad for several years studying voice and theater, but returned to the United States for good in 1927.”
He trained initially as a singer and actor, and moved to New York City in 1937. Not having much luck in the theater, he and his friend, Bill Rhodes, capitalized on the cocktail party craze by opening a catering company, “Hors d’Oeuvre, Inc.”, which led to the publication of Beard’s first cookbook, Hors D’Oeuvre and Canapés, a compilation of his catering recipes. Rationing difficulties during World War II brought his catering business to a halt. In 1946, he appeared on an early televised cooking show, I Love to Eat, on NBC, and thus began his rise as an eminent American food authority.
According to Julia Child, Beard was on the culinary road map in 1940 with the publication of his first book, Hors d’Oeuvre and Canapés. Beard started out with a catering business in New York, followed by lecturing, teaching, and writing both books and articles. Child states, “Through the years he gradually became not only the leading culinary figure in the country, but ‘The Dean of American Cuisine’. According to the James Beard Foundation website: “In 1955, he established The James Beard Cooking School. He continued to teach cooking to men and women for the next 30 years, both at his own schools (in New York City and Seaside, Oregon), and around the country at women’s clubs, other cooking schools, and civic groups. He was a tireless traveler, bringing his message of good food, honestly prepared with fresh, wholesome, American ingredients, to a country just becoming aware of its own culinary heritage.”
James Beard brought French cooking to the American middle and upper classes in the 1950s. Beard starred on TV as a cooking personality. David Kamp notes that this show was the first cooking show on TV. Kamp contrasts Dione Lucas’s cooking show and cooking school with that of James Beard, noting also that their prominence in the 1950s marked the emergence of a New York-based, nationally- and internationally-known sophisticated food culture. Kamp notes, “It was in this decade [the 1950s] that Beard made his name as James Beard, the brand name, the face and belly of American gastronomy.”Kamp points out that Beard was able to meet Alice B. Toklas on a trip to Paris,illustrating Beard’s extensive network of fellow food celebrities that would follow him throughout his life and carry on his legacy after his death.
Financial needs caused Beard to sign endorsement deals promoting products that he might otherwise have not used or suggested in his own cuisine, had he been financially independent. Beard entered into an endorsement project with the Green Giant canned food company. Kamp explains that Beard felt that he was a “gastronomic whore” for doing so. Apparently, mass-produced food that was neither fresh, local, nor seasonal, was a betrayal of Beard’s gastronomic beliefs, but arose from his desire to pay for his cooking schools.
In 1981, along with friend Gael Greene, Beard founded Citymeals-on-Wheels, which continues to help feed the home-bound elderly in New York City.
Julia Child accurately sums up Beard’s personal life in a brief description:
Beard was the quintessential American cook. Well-educated and well-traveled during his eighty-two years, he was familiar with many cuisines but he remained fundamentally American. He was a big man, over six feet tall, with a big belly, and huge hands. An endearing and always lively teacher, he loved people, loved his work, loved gossip, loved to eat, loved a good time.
Child’s summary makes two significant omissions. The first is that he was homosexual. Beard’s memoir states: “By the time I was seven, I knew that I was gay. I think it’s time to talk about that now.”The second was Beard’s own admission of possessing “until I was about forty-five,
I guess a really violent temper.”
Mark Bittman (who did not know Beard personally) describes him in a manner similar to that of Julia Child: “In a time when serious cooking meant French Cooking, Beard was quintessentially American, a Westerner whose mother ran a boardinghouse, a man who grew up with hotcakes and salmon and meatloaf in his blood. A man who was born a hundred years ago on the other side of the country, in a city, Portland, that at the time was every bit as cosmopolitan as, say, Allegheny PA.”
Beard died January 21, 1985, in New York City, New York, United States, of heart failure at the age of 81.He was cremated, and his ashes were scattered over the beach in Gearhart, Oregon, United States, where he spent his summers as a child.
The James Beard Foundation was set up in Beard’s honor to provide scholarships to aspiring food professionals and to champion the American culinary tradition — which Beard helped create.Since 2001 the Beard Foundation has awarded over $2.2 million in scholarships and tuition waivers to young culinarians and career changers pursuing culinary studies.
For a time, the foundation was plagued by scandal; in 2004 its head, Leonard Pickell, resigned and was imprisoned for grand larceny and in 2005 the board of trustees resigned. It was during this period that chef and writer Anthony Bourdain referred to the foundation as “a kind of benevolent shakedown operation”. Since that time a completely new board of trustees has instituted a new ethics policy and selected a new president, Susan Ungaro, both actions explicitly targeted at preventing further abuse.
The foundation continues to experience some financial difficulty; it has operated at a deficit for several consecutive years, though the size of that deficit has decreased since Pickell’s departure and 2010 is expected to be a turnaround year for the organization.
After Beard’s death in 1985, Julia Child had the idea to preserve his home in New York City as the gathering place it was throughout his life. Peter Kump, a former student of Beard’s and the founder of the Institute of Culinary Education (formerly Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School), spearheaded the effort to purchase the house and create the James Beard Foundation.
Beard’s renovated brownstone is located at 167 West 12th Street, in the heart ofGreenwich Village. It is North America’s only historical culinary center, a place where Foundation members, the press, and the general public are encouraged to savor the creations of both established and emerging chefs from across the country and around the globe.
The annual James Beard Foundation Awards are given at the industry’s biggest party, part of a fortnight of activities that celebrate fine cuisine and Beard’s birthday. Held on the first Monday in May, the Awards ceremony honors the finest chefs, restaurants, journalists, cookbook authors, restaurant designers, and electronic media professionals in the country. It culminates in a reception featuring a tasting of the signature dishes of more than 30 of the James Beard Foundation’s very best chefs.
A quarterly magazine, Beard House, is a comprehensive compendium of the best in culinary journalism. The foundation also publishes the James Beard Foundation Restaurant Directory, a directory of all chefs who have either presented a meal at the Beard House or have participated in one of the foundation’s out-of-House fundraising events.
source courtesy wikepedia