The James Beard Foundation Awards Gala isn’t till May 9, but the hype cycle has officially begun: The Foundation has announced that it’ll start accepting nominations for its Restaurant and Chef Awards tomorrow (check back here at noon) and in addition, there’ll be some “sweeping changes” that amount to a “radical evolution” in the Journalism Awards (May 6). Okay, don’t get too excited, but bloggers now won’t be confined to categories like Multimedia Writing on Food (which Grub Street won in 2008, yay!) or Food Blog (which Grub Street was nominated for last year, yay!), and will instead be able to be nominated, along with real-deal magazine and newspaper writers, in broad categories like Food-related Feature and Personal Essay. And the committee is addressing another gripe — that multi-writer blogs like Serious Eats (last year’s Food Blog winner) always go up against smaller blogs that don’t stand much of a chance — by adding an Individual Food Blog category. For those of you who covet a Golden Fester, here’s the new rundown of categories. One question about Humor on behalf of Ruth Bourdain: Can Twitter feeds get a medal?
MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award: Recognizes a single article of exceptional literary merit pertaining to food and/or drink published in any medium.
Craig Claiborne Distinguished Restaurant Review Award: Recognizes discerning criticism of enduring value which contributes to the larger discourse on cuisine or restaurants. An entry consists of three restaurant reviews or critiques published in any medium, attached as one entry.
Food Section of a General Interest Publication: Recognizes excellence in food writing, reporting, and packaging of a regularly-published food section in a non food-focused publication. Entries may be from any medium and consist of three complete examples of the full section.
Food-related Feature: Recognizes excellence in a single food- or drink- related article published in any medium that demonstrates enterprise, curiosity, and rigor.
Personal Essay: Recognizes excellence in a first-person essay on any food or drink-related topic, published in any medium. An entry consists of one eloquent essay that demonstrates a unique voice, perceptiveness and style.
Humor: Recognizes a single piece of written and/or visual food- or drink-related satire, parody, or other form of humor, published in any medium.
Cooking, Recipes, or Instruction: Recognizes excellence and innovation in food service journalism. It honors originality and seeks fresh approaches—both written and visual—to make cooking methods, ingredient knowledge, and recipes accessible to a wide audience. An entry consists of three pieces published in any medium.
Profile: Recognizes a dramatic presentation that brings to life the world of a chef, restaurateur, grower, producer, or other figure or group of significance to food or drink, published in any medium.
Food Culture and Travel: Recognizes the importance of place, culture, and history in food journalism. An entry consists of a single piece, or series of related pieces or posts, published in any medium, that makes the connection of food to a community or location.
Environment, Food Politics, and Policy: Recognizes excellence in investigative reporting, analysis, or other public service journalism on environmental, political, or policy-related issues regarding food or drink, published in any medium. An entry consists of a single piece or a series of related pieces or posts.
Health and Nutrition: Recognizes enlightening journalism on food- or drink-related health or nutrition topics published in any medium. An entry consists of one definitive article or series of thematically-related pieces or posts.
Food-related Columns and Commentary: Recognizes the work of an individual that demonstrates thought-provoking opinion and a compelling style. An entry consists of three examples, regularly published in any medium.
Wine and Spirits: Recognizes distinctive style and innovative approach. An entry consists of a single article on wine, spirits, or other alcohol beverages, published in any medium.
Multimedia Food Feature: Recognizes excellence and innovation in storytelling or communication. Entries consist of an integrated package of one piece, or a series of up to three pieces, on food-or-drink-related topic which integrates multiple tools (such as video, audio, narrative, links, social media), published in any medium which allows for these tools.
Individual Food Blog: Recognizes individual enterprise and excellence in a single food-or drink-related blog that is the product of one primary voice, or a small group of regular contributors. An entry consists of three days, weeks, or threads of posts, whichever best represents the publishing schedule of the work.
Publication of the Year: Recognizes excellence in one magazine, newspaper, or website. It is awarded by the Journalism Committee of the James Beard Foundation and is based on nominations presented to them by the full roster of Journalism judges and by former James Beard Journalism Award winners.
The full list of 2011 James Beard Foundation Awards programs and deadlines:
Restaurant and Chef Awards: Online voting ends at midnight on December 31, 2010 (various categories for restaurants, restaurateurs, chefs and wine and spirits professionals in the United States)
Book Awards: December 15, 2010 (for food and beverage books published in English, in the calendar year 2010)
Journalism Awards: January 7, 2011 (work published in English in the calendar year 2010)
Broadcast Media Awards: January 7, 2011 (for television, radio shows, and webcasts in English broadcast in the calendar year 2010)
Restaurant Design and Graphics: January 28, 2011 (open to architects/designers in North America for restaurant projects completed since 2008)