Chicago will apparently continue as host city for the James Beard Foundation Awards through 2021. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel told the Tribune that the city has secured a four-year extension for the culinary awards—often described as the Oscars of the industry—and beat out San Francisco and New Orleans. Chicago hosted the Beards the last two years and 2017 was the end of a three-year contract.
During the 2016 awards, held in May, many participants mused that 2017 would be Chicago’s swan song, believing that the awards should rotate toward the West Coast to achieve geographic diversity. Before 2015, the awards had never left New York, and it was a big deal when Chicago wrestled the awards away from New York. That effort began in November 2013 after a casual suggestion. Emanuel and his staff have ridden culinary tourism as a vehicle to raise the city’s exposure and a means to generate more money. The Beard Media Awards, a separate event, will remain in New York.
Emanuel told the Trib that unlike New York, Chicago better embraced its role as the awards’ host city, which left an impression with event organizers. Next year’s awards are scheduled for May 1, 2017, once more at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.