James Beard Foundation Makes Changes to the Best Chef Regions
Competition is building among new areas of the country, since the James Beard Foundation redistricted its Best Chef Award regions this morning. The last redistrict occurred in 2005, when changes were made to reflect the vibrancy and growth of local dining scenes in the United States — the reasoning holds true now.
The Southern region which formerly encompassed Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas will now include the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. No, Puerto Rico is not a member of the union, but Seattle Times restaurant critic and chair of the James Beard Foundation's Restaurant and Chef Awards Committee, Providence Cicero, shared, "Including Puerto Rico along with the 50 states and Washington, D.C. recognizes the Commonwealth’s vibrant and expanding restaurant scene."
The second change was creating the Best Chef West; a three-state region including California, Hawaii, and now Nevada. Nevada was initially a member of the Southwest region alongside Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Texas, and Oklahoma. Since the Southwest region includes nine of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the country, moving Nevada evens the playing field a bit.