100 Years of Advancing Destinations


Monday, January 27, 2014

Award-winning chefs and travel industry leaders from around the country will gather in Washington, DC February 11, when the James Beard Foundation (JBF) will receive one of the top honors bestowed in the travel and tourism industry.

JBF has been selected by The Destination & Travel Foundation to receive the 2014 Spirit of Hospitality Award, the highest recognition presented annually to individuals and organizations that show exceptional dedication and commitment to the travel and tourism industry.  JBF president Susan Ungaro will accept the award February 11 at the 21st Annual Destination & Travel Foundation Dinner & Dream Auction at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Special guest and multiple James Beard Award-winning Chef Art Smith will join the evening to help present the Spirit of Hospitality Award.

Prominent chefs and top names in the wine and spirits world will craft an evening full of tastes, flavors and sips reflective of destinations nationwide to celebrate the Spirit of Hospitality: 

  • Creating the three-course dinner are Chef John Fleer, owner of Ashville, North Carolina’s Rhubarb Restaurant and a multiple James Beard Award nominee (presented by Asheville Area CVB); Chef Tory McPhail, executive chef of New Orleans’ Commander’s Palace and “Best Chef: South” Beard Award-winner (presented by New Orleans CVB); and Keegan Gerhard, owner of Denver’s D-Bar Desserts and judge of the Food Network Challenge (presented by Visit Denver). Each course will be paired with wines from Monterey, California, courtesy of the Monterey CVB. 
  • Additionally, the event’s pre-dinner reception will feature hors d’oeuvres by Indianapolis Chef Dave Foegley, from James Beard  “America’s Classic” award-winning restaurant St. Elmo Steak House (presented by ¬¬Visit Indy), as well as a raw bar courtesy of Rappahannock River Oysters. Adding to the opening reception and after-party will be Evan Williams Bourbon (by the Louisville CVB), Chicago’s Goose Island Brewery (by Choose Chicago), Fess Parker wines (by Visit Santa Barbara), a selection of Washington State wines (by Visit Seattle) and spirits from High West (by Visit Salt Lake).

“In the 20 year history of the award, this is the first time a culinary organization will be recognized, acknowledging the strong bond between food, restaurants and travel. Culinary tourism has grown into one of the most dynamic and creative segments of tourism,” said Victoria Isley, Destination & Travel Foundation executive director.  Many destination marketing organizations have created partnerships with chefs, restaurants and food tours, she noted, to help tell their stories and market their communities around the world. According to the Global Report on Food Tourism from the UN World Tourism Organization, 88% of destinations consider gastronomy a strategic element in defining the brand and image of their destination.

The James Beard Foundation’s mission is to celebrate, nurture, and honor America’s diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire. A cookbook author and teacher, James Beard was a champion of American cuisine who helped educate and mentor generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts. Today the prestigious culinary arts organization continues in the same spirit by offering events and programs designed to educate, inspire, entertain, and foster a deeper understanding of our culinary culture. 

“James Beard was known for his culinary travels. The first place he wanted to visit when he got to a new city or country was their farmers markets. He believed you would better understand the flavor of a place through taste," said Ungaro. "The James Beard Foundation is thrilled to be the recipient of the 2014 Spirit of Hospitality Award. Just as our namesake often said, we believe that 'Food is our common ground'. ”   

 “As a key member of the Diplomatic Culinary Partnership and an advisor on the U.S. Department of States’ American Chef Corps initiative, the James Beard Foundation is at the forefront of recognizing the power of dining and culinary arts as one of the most important tools of diplomacy from a national, international and local perspective,” said Craig Davis, CDME, chair of the Destination & Travel Foundation. He added, “They have been a pioneer in shining a light on the best culinary talent in regions around the country, connecting travelers with real local cultures, flavors and experiences in destinations.”

Former U.S. Department of State Chief of Protocol Capricia Marshall said, “The James Beard Foundation was an invaluable partner to the U. S Department of State/Office of the Chief of Protocol as it launched its global Diplomatic Culinary Partnership in 2012. Its commitment to excellence in cuisine and celebrating America’s diverse culinary heritage has proven essential in making this historic program’s efforts a success.”

For more information about the reception and dinner, click here.