And Giving Kitchen was honored with the Humanitarian of the Year award.
We’re in the full-swing of James Beard Award season now—we’ve already heard about major policy changes to the foundation's decision-making process, the semi-finalists have been announced, and on Tuesday, Canlis was honored with the 2019 Design Icon Award. The latest addition? The Lifetime Achievement and Humanitarian of the Year awards, which the foundation announced today—the honorees are chef Patrick O’Connell and Giving Kitchen, respectively. Last year’s Lifetime Achievement honoree was Paula Wolfert, while José Andrés took home the Humanitarian of the Year Award.
The Lifetime Achievement Award is given to a person in the industry “whose lifetime body of work has had a positive and long-lasting impact on the way we eat, cook, and think about food in America,” according to the JBF. It’s a fitting award for O’Connell, a self-taught chef whose restaurant, the renowned Inn at Little Washington, is the first three-starred restaurant in the Washington D.C. Michelin guide; he’s also amassed several other James Beard Awards over the span of his career (including Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic), and is a published author. The foundation highlighted his dedication to offer “refined, regional American cuisine in the Virginia countryside,” working with local farmers and artisan producers long before the farm-to-table movement even had a name.
“I’m living proof that you can hide out in a mountain village with a population of 133 and still be discovered and recognized by your peers,” O’Connell said in a statement. “The power of good food should never be underestimated.”
He also thanked his staff and patrons, stating, “no chef could ever receive such an acknowledgment without the talents of a dedicated team supporting him or her. I’m immensely grateful to everyone who helped me on the long and colorful journey to this point—especially to our guests for their loyal patronage through the years.”
As for the Humanitarian of the Year award, the foundation honors a person or organization whose work in the food industry “has improved the lives of others and benefited society at large.” The honoree, Giving Kitchen, is a non-profit that provides crisis grants and financial assistance to restaurant workers in need—a project co-founded by Jen Hidinger-Kendrick and her late husband, chef Ryan Hidinger, after he was diagnosed with stage-four cancer in December 2012. Members of the restaurant community who need help covering living expenses while recovering from an accident, natural disaster, or illness can receive aid from Giving Kitchen: to this date, the grants have helped over 1,500 food service workers, according to a statement.
For more updates, winners, and announcements leading up to the James Beard Awards on May 6, check out our story here.