Inclusivity took the spotlight at the James Beard Foundation Awards held Monday night in Chicago. Since the #MeToo movement last year, the Oscars of the food world has introduced changes to its judging and selection processes in order to increase diversity in its pool of nominees and winners. And the night’s honorees, many of whom celebrated their triumphs over adversity to become stars of the restaurant industry, reflected the changing face of the awards. Here are six quotes from the award winners that touch on how far the restaurant industry has come and how far it needs to go in order to create a culture that’s accessible for all.
4. Rising Star Chef of the Year: Kwame Onwuachi, Kith and Kin, Washington D.C.
"As I stand on this stage, I understand that I have a job to do, we all do. We can include everyone in the conversation of cooking. Fifty-four years ago, the last restaurant was integrated and Jim Crow was lifted. And here I am, my ancestors’ wildest dreams."
5. Best Chef: Southeast: Mashama Bailey, The Grey, Savannah, Ga.
“One of the things that starts to happen in the industry is that [women] have families, we make sacrifices, and the men move forward because they don’t have to make those sacrifices. I want to put together a child care system for women in the industry, because finding child care is not an affordable thing for cooks to have.”
6. Best Chef: Southeast: Mashama Bailey, The Grey, Savannah, Ga.
“Things changed when I realized that my history mattered, my story mattered. People who are not necessarily supported are starting to believe in the strength of their voice, starting to come together as a community.”