Burnt Toast Podcast

How the James Beard Awards Really Work

April 27, 2016

The James Beard Awards are something like the Oscars of food, with less gold leaf on the dinner and shorter speeches.

I've always wondered what exactly goes into them: What happens after we submit what we think are our best articles, videos, and books of the year? Who reviews them, and what are they looking for? How is the winner decided? Why on earth do they make journalists—who are used to working singularly, behind a computer—deliver acceptance speeches? Is it all a cruel joke?

So I didn't answer that last question, but I did set out to answer the first few. And, right after I started working on this episode, our humble little podcast won a nomination. A nomination! We may not have won the award last night, but we're still counting it a success. (To see the full winner's circle, head here.)

Shop the Story

In today's episode, I trace a cookbook's path from submission to—fingers crossed—winning an award. Andrea Weigl, chair of the JBFA books subcommittee, and Matt Sartwell, JBFA judge, friend, and owner of the well-loved Kitchen Arts & Letters, are my guests.

To hear how it all works, play the episode above, find it on iTunes, or listen to it using your favorite podcatcher. (Don't have one yet? We're fans of Stitcher.)

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Transcendancing
  • Alexandra Stafford
    Alexandra Stafford
  • mcs3000
  • Milton Sandy
    Milton Sandy
  • Kenzi Wilbur
    Kenzi Wilbur
Kenzi Wilbur

Written by: Kenzi Wilbur

I have a thing for most foods topped with a fried egg, a strange disdain for overly soupy tomato sauce, and I can never make it home without ripping off the end of a newly-bought baguette. I like spoons very much.


Transcendancing May 19, 2016
Once again, great episode and interviews Kenzi! I continue to enjoy your style of podcasting and speaking a lot.
Kenzi W. May 19, 2016
Thank you so much!
Alexandra S. April 28, 2016
So many congrats on the nomination, Kenzi! I have yet to listen to this one, but last weekend, I had three hours in the car alone (!!) en route to CT, and got caught up on about 5/6 episodes ... such good listening. Bravo!
Kenzi W. April 29, 2016
Thank you Ali! xo
mcs3000 April 28, 2016
Fascinating to hear about the process.
Kristen M. April 28, 2016
Totally agree. Could have listened to hours of this.
Milton S. April 27, 2016
Great interviews, article, interesting view of a process.
Kenzi W. April 27, 2016
Thanks! And thanks for listening.