Cookbook author and teacher, James Beard, promoted simple healthy food and culinary culture for many decades. After his death in 1985, a group of his students and friends, lead by chef Peter Kump, raised funds to purchase his house and went on to create the James Beard Foundation. Today, the Foundation continues Beard’s culinary legacy while expanding their mission to address rising obesity rates and teach others about nutrition.
Beard Foundation programs include educational initiatives, food industry awards, an annual food conference, the Leadership Awards program, culinary scholarships and publications. The Foundation maintains the James Beard House in New York City’s Greenwich Village as a space for visiting chefs to share their art, and it runs an online community while hosting conferences, lectures, tastings, workshops and food-related exhibits in New York and beyond.
In July 2012, the Foundation launched the Chefs Boot Camp for Policy & Change, a program designed to provide chefs with tools and support to lead and advocate for food-system change. The program is “designed to grow a cohort of effective chef advocates who are dedicated to improving the safety, healthfulness, wholesomeness, sustainability and equity of America’s food system.” It received financial and programming support from the Pew Charitable Trusts.
The Foundation also partners with the Clinton Foundation to run a collaborative program called America Cooks with Chefs: The 800 Calorie Challenge. The program is a cooking competition for home cooks that focuses on healthy eating and nutrition, and it is facilitated by managing partner Palisades Media Venture. Its goal is to “tackle rising obesity rates and nutrition-induced illnesses on a national scale.”
A newer educational effort is Enlightened Eaters. This series takes place at the James Beard House, and it consists of readings, workshops, discussions and other programs focusing on health, nutrition, sustainability and environmental issues.