The James Beard Foundation is shifting the focal point of its programming from the house on a picturesque street in New York City’s West Village to a food hall slated to open in April on the edge of Manhattan overlooking the Hudson River.
The new venue, called Platform by the James Beard Foundation, will be a show kitchen, event space, and education center at the Market 57 food hall, a 16,000 square-foot space that’s part of the refurbished Pier 57, located on the river between 14th and 17th streets.
The foundation will also run Good to Go by JBF, which it said will be an incubator for fast-casual concepts by “established operators who embody JBF’s mission and values,” according to a press release detailing the project.
In recent years the foundation has outlined its values as being “centered around creating a more equitable, sustainable, and healthy work culture.”
The foundation said the new venue is the first expansion of its real estate portfolio since the organization was established in 1985 at the former home of James Beard, the chef, cookbook author, TV personality, and educator who had died earlier that year.
For decades that followed, the James Beard House hosted hundreds of dinners each year, most of them cooked by chefs and their teams from across the country, who usually paid their way to do and it considered cooking there an honor and a rite of passage.
That came to an abrupt end with the onset of the pandemic in March of 2020, when the house was closed and the foundation took the time to reassess its use of the house. Since then it has been used for more educational programs and special events.
Platform will be open six to seven days a week and will feature a weekly chef-in-residence program, dining and beverage events, cooking demonstrations and classes, interactive exhibits, industry gatherings, and other activities.
Already on the docket for April, when the events will have New York-relatee themes, are a panel discussion with restaurateurs about “Restaurants That Changed New York,” a class on oysters, a panel and reception about the intersection of hip-hop and food culture, and a collaborative dinner from some of New York’s oldest restaurants, including Fraunces Tavern, Grand Central Oyster Bar, Russ & Daughters, and Gage & Tollner.
The Beard Foundation is leasing the space for its two venues from Google, but the overall Pier 57 project is being managed by Jamestown, a global real estate investment and management firm.
“The James Beard Foundation’s presence at Market 57 will enliven the food hall experience, offering visitors opportunities to celebrate and support emerging talent in the food & beverage industry,” Jamestown president Michael Phillips said in the press release. “Through the public programming at Platform and Good To Go small business incubator, visitors can feel a deeper connection to the space, food, and community.”
Beard Foundation executives said the newer, higher-profile venue would help the organization share its mission with a wider audience.
“Through a robust calendar of events, dinners, demos, tours, and other offerings, we look forward to showcasing our commitment to American food culture and leadership, equity, and sustainability — while inviting the public to experience the work of some of our industry’s best talent,” Beard Foundation president and chief operating officer Kris Moon said in a statement. “The hope for this project is that visitors walk away excited and inspired to learn more about our country’s food system — as well as some of the larger issues at play. Guests will not only enjoy delicious experiences, but they’ll also be part of our work to champion a better food culture for all.”
Beard Foundation CEO Clare Reichenbach called the new venues “a transformational evolution of the Foundation.”
“As an industry-first organization this is a unique opportunity to engage the food-loving consumer like never before,” she said in a statement. “We look forward to celebrating and spotlighting those leading American food culture through exceptional culinary programming at Platform and Good To Go in the days and years to come.”
Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected]