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James Beard names 2 vegan chefs to his Legacy Network


The James Beard Foundation, a non-profit organization that aims to celebrate and support the people behind America’s food culture, recently announced that vegan chefs Sadhana Raj and Melissa Guzman have joined its class of mentors and mentors. Legacy Network mentees from 2022 to 2023. Founded in partnership with bourbon brand Woodford Reserve, the Legacy Network offers a mentorship program that connects food industry veterans with the next generation to help build a more equitable future for the hotel and food industry.

In an effort to advance the equitable and culturally relevant leadership needed to strengthen the industry, each mentee, under the guidance of Legacy Network mentors, becomes part of a powerful network that centers the professional growth of previously underserved communities. As a whole, the Legacy Network helps fill historical gaps in mentorship and resources for Black American and Indigenous professionals.

Raj, a first-generation Indian immigrant who founded 24 Carrots, a vegan bakery, juice bar and restaurant in Phoenix, AZ, is part of the Legacy Network mentor class from 2022-2023. opened last December after 13 years in business, but through the Legacy Network, Raj hopes to pass on his expertise and collaborate within the industry.

The Caribbean Vegan

Chef Guzman, known for her Miami-based food truck, The Caribbean Vegan— is part of this year’s class of mentees. With her business and vegan family recipes, Guzman says she seeks to change mindsets about what both vegan food and island cuisine can be. Last year, The Caribe Vegan received a grant from the James Beard Foundation Food and Beverage Investment Fund for Black and Indigenous Americans, which aims to provide financial resources to majority Black or Indigenous-owned food or beverage businesses. .

“The support of my community means the world to me,” Guzman said when she received the James Beard Fellowship in 2021. “It’s been hard, you know, then to see so many people cheering me on. [and] just wanting to see me win means letting the world know that the fact that I keep growing and keep pushing helps other people.

James Beard Awards Elevate Vegan Chefs

In recent years, the James Beard Foundation has begun to nurture more and more vegan chefs as well as writers, authors, and content creators. In June, the 2022 James Beard Media Award winners included two influential vegans. First celebrated in Chicago, the 30-Year-Old Media Awards honored food writers, broadcast producers, hosts, journalists, podcasters and social media content creators.


Korean vegan

At this year’s awards, the Book Award for Vegetable-Based Cooking went to Joanne Lee Molinaro for her cookbook, The Korean Vegan Cookbook: Thoughts and Recipes from Omma’s Kitchen. Molinaro’s first cookbook, a moment New York Times bestseller, shares a collection of her favorite Korean dishes, some traditional and some reinvented, as well as narrative snapshots that shaped her family’s history.

The Broadcast Media Award for Social Media Account went to Alexis Nikole Nelson for her TikTok and Instagram account BlackForager, where she shares her knowledge and advice on foraging.

And in the journalism category, the Craig Claiborne Distinguished Restaurant Review Award went to Soleil Ho, the food critic of the San Francisco Chronicle for three articles including one on plant-based Impossible Nuggets: “Impossible’s New Vegan Nuggets Taste Better than McNuggets. Unfortunately, that doesn’t say much. The prize recognizes “savvy critics who contribute to a broader discourse on cuisine or restaurants”.


James Beard House

James Beard Hosts Vegan Dinners

The James Beard Foundation also celebrated plant-based foods with vegan-focused dinners. In 2019, the James Beard House, which hosts culinary events, hosted a vegan dinner showcasing Las Vegas cuisine, a collaboration between the James Beard Foundation and Diana Edelman, founder of Vegans media brand, Baby. “The James Beard Foundation is absolutely thrilled and honored to partner with Vegans, Baby and Founder Diana Edelman to shine a light on a group of chefs and restaurants who are not only heating up the Vegas culinary scene, but also using their unique culinary voices to create fabulous vegan dishes for this one-night experience at James Beard House,” said Izabela Wojcik, Director of Programming at James Beard House, in a statement at the time.

That same year, the James Beard House launched a series of monthly vegan dinners featuring various chefs from across the country. Previously, in 2018, the house hosted an all-vegan dinner featuring female vegan chefs, winemakers and owners to celebrate International Women’s Day.

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