What Kind of Writing Wins a Beard Award?

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James-Beard-Medallion-300x255What I like about The James Beard awards, called “the Oscars of food writing,” is that I can find most of the journalism award-winning pieces online.

I want to soak up their brilliance. I also know I will be a little envious. That’s okay. Reading them gives me ideas for my own writing.

These essays will make you laugh, amaze you, make you nod in recognition, make you outraged — all emotions generated by skilled writers (and their editors). They are worth my time, and yours.

Just so you know, judges can only judge the entries. We don’t go out and look for work that might win. So if you don’t enter, you can’t win. (I am a book judge and a past judge for the Bert Greene Awards for IACP.)

Here, for your reading pleasure, are most of the journalism award winners. Enjoy the fine writing at your leisure. Look up all the James Beard winners here, for cookbooks and videos.

1. Journalism

2. Blogs

3. Publications

  • Civil Eats, Publication of the Year (but it’s a website?)


  1. Eric Roberg says

    Wow, I didn’t realize Lisa Fain had won a James Beard award. That doesn’t surprise me at all and makes me SO very proud of her. Lisa’s blog is was life changing for me, and is what made me want to be able to tell stories like hers about my own loved ones. Thanks, Dianne! Priceless post, as always. I love your special little place on the web. :)

    • diannejacob says

      Isn’t that fantastic? Yes, richly deserved.

      Thanks for being such a fan, Eric, and writing such nice comments.

  2. says

    Remind me to tell you what kind of writing loses James Beard Awards…

    (Actually, I was screaming loudly for Lisa when she won. And Francis. And John. And a lot of other people.)

    • diannejacob says

      Ah, right. Sorry about that. The finalists can sometimes lose by just a hair. That probably doesn’t console you at all.

      • says

        It probably also doesn’t console you Michael that it is such an accomplishment to be in the running for a JB award. My opinion is that your writing is superb and win-worthy. Thank you Dianne for providing the list so we can personally judge them against Michael’s writing :) And be inspired by all.

      • says

        Actually, I need no consolation. I really didn’t care about winning– I’ve had such a great year already. I spent the rest of the evening with Lisa, basking in her glow.

        Besides, it’s a good thing I didn’t win– I don’t want to peak too early.

  3. says

    So helpful to have all the links together, thank you, Dianne! And Michael, I’m sorry you didn’t win. For what it’s worth, I think you are a terrific writer. So, apparently, do the many other folks who read your blog, and the judges who nominated you.

    • diannejacob says

      Marge, it was my pleasure. I’m with you about Michael. He has been nominated a few times for both Beard and IACP. It’s only a matter of time.

    • says

      Thanks a lovely thing to say, Thank you. And I did not mean to steer this conversation towards me. I was just having a spot of fun.

      I’m seriously delighted for the winners, many of whom are friends of mine. My voice was hoarse from yelling at the awards.

  4. Kelly von Hemert says

    Hi Dianne,
    Congrats to you on being a judge! How exciting. Winning a James Beard Award is one of my goals, and although I didn’t win this year, I entered for the first time. Like you said, you can’t win if you don’t play! Congratulations to all the winners! I have won in my local press club awards, and while maybe not as heady a feeling, the result is the same the next day: the award goes on the shelf and the writer goes back to the craft, which is the real award. Thanks for the great post. Looking forward to reading!

    • diannejacob says

      Thank you. I had been an IACP judge before Beard so I was pretty clear on the procedure. I judge books, rather than journalism. This year I had 37. There can be only 5 finalists.

      It is wonderful to win. I have a few awards in my office and I notice them every once in a while. But you’re right, most of my time, my head is down, buried in work that I enjoy.

  5. says

    I’d like to take a couple of days off and hunker down to do nothing else but savor these enticing pieces. Thanks for rounding it all up in one place for our convenience.
    Let the reading begin!

  6. says

    Thanks much for posting the Beard-winning food stories, especially Francis Lam’s Lucky Peach piece, “A Day on Long Island with Alex Lee.” I met Alex Lee at Daniel when he was the executive chef there in 2003. I had just won the Beard Award and Corby Kummer, who happened to be dining at Daniel that evening, introduced me to Daniel. After Dinner, Daniel took us on a tour of the kitchen and introduced me to Alex Lee. Alex told me how much he liked Baking in America and that he was baking several recipes from the book. How in the world could he have the time to do that, I wondered. What I remember most about him was his kindness and absolute love and devotion to his craft. How refreshing to see how Alex has nurtured himself and everyone else around him since leaving Daniel.

    • diannejacob says

      I love this story, Greg. And I love Francis Lam’s story too! Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  7. says

    Dianne, thank you very much for collecting these winning pieces and posting them all here. What a treasure chest this post is!

  8. says

    Thanks for this winners’ list. Now that I’ve been truly spooked by the images in Fuschia Dunlop’s story ‘Dick Soup’, I’ll take a deep breath and continue with the others. I’m prepared for anything now.

    • diannejacob says

      Hah! That was a bracing story, indeed. It shows how a great writer with deep knowledge of a subject no one else wants to tackle can be very successful.

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