The James Beard Foundation announced today that Lexus has signed on as the Presenting Sponsor of the 2015 James Beard Foundation Awards, the culinary industry’s most prestigious recognition program. The partnership with the Lexus Central Area Dealer Association demonstrates the Foundation and Chicago’s support for each other’s ongoing initiatives in both local commerce and food. The highly anticipated Awards Ceremony and Gala Reception, presented by Lexus, will take place on Monday, May 4, 2015, at Lyric Opera of Chicago.


May 2015 marks the 25th James Beard Awards. The first ceremony took place May 5, 1991, on the MS New Yorker yacht with 1000 people in attendance. That year, Wolfgang Puck won the inaugural Outstanding Chef Award, while Bouley in New York City received the Outstanding Restaurant Award. A quarter century later, the Foundation will hold these same Awards in Chicago, marking the first time they will be held outside of New York City, while celebrating the last 25 years of gastronomic progress and the chefs and culinary luminaries who have shaped the food world as we know it today.


“Hosting the 2015 James Beard Foundation Awards provides us with a unique platform to showcase Chicago’s restaurants and chefs to the most influential food and beverage industry leaders in the country,” said Mayor Emanuel. “I am pleased that bringing the event to Chicago has opened up new opportunities for growth and look forward to celebrating Chicago’s and the nation’s best when the Awards come to Chicago this spring.”


“Lexus has a long history of partnering with some of the world’s best chefs and offering incredible culinary experiences at premier food and wine events,” said Brian Smith, Lexus vice president of marketing. “To now work with The James Beard Foundation and be part of its prestigious Awards program provides an opportunity to celebrate the culinary community and to honor the most talented individuals who inspire others through their creativity and passion.”


On Tuesday, March 24, 2015, the Foundation will announce the final nominees for all award categories during a press breakfast at the James Beard House. Nominations will be announced live via the Foundation’s Twitter feed at twitter.com/beardfoundation.


On Friday, April 24, 2015, the James Beard Foundation Book, Broadcast, and Journalism Awards Dinner, an exclusive event honoring the nation’s top cookbook authors, culinary broadcast producers and hosts, and food journalists, will take place at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers in New York City.


The James Beard Foundation Awards Ceremony and Gala Reception will take place at Lyric Opera of Chicago on Monday, May 4, 2015. During the event, which is open to the public, awards for the Restaurant and Chef and Restaurant Design categories will be handed out, along with special achievement awards including Humanitarian of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America, and America’s Classics. A gala reception will immediately follow, featuring top chefs and beverage professionals from across the country.


“Our Foundation is proud to hold the most prestigious awards program in the food and beverage industry in Chicago for the first time,” said Susan Ungaro, president of James Beard Foundation. “We are especially delighted that bringing the 2015 Awards to Chicago has given us the opportunity to work with new partners, such as Lexus, while continuing to highlight Chicago’s creative community of chefs, restaurateurs, and food lovers, who are such strong supporters of our organization.”


Established in 1990, the James Beard Awards recognize culinary professionals for excellence and achievement in their fields and further the Foundation’s mission to celebrate, nurture, and honor America’s diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire. Each award category has an individual committee made up of industry professionals who volunteer their time to oversee the policies, procedures, and selection of judges for their respective Awards program. All JBF Award winners receive a certificate and a medallion engraved with the James Beard Foundation Awards insignia. There are no cash prizes.


The 2015 James Beard Foundation Awards are presented by Lexus; in association with Enjoy Illinois, HMS Host and Mariano’s; and the following partners:  Premier Sponsors: All-Clad Metalcrafters, BACARDÍ 8®, Lenox Tableware and Gifts, True Refrigeration; Supporting Sponsors: Acqua Panna® Natural Spring Water, Breville, Delta Air Lines®, Goose Island Beer Company, Lavazza, S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water, Valrhona; Gala Reception Sponsors: Ecolab, Tanqueray No. TEN®, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts; with additional support from: Chefwear and VerTerra Dinnerware. The James Beard Foundation also gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the Chicago Department of Aviation, Choose Chicago and the Illinois Restaurant Association.

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