Cookbook author and food historian Jessica B. Harris and nonprofit organization Zero Foodprint have been named the 2020 recipients of the James Beard Foundation's lifetime achievement and humanitarian of the year awards.
A culinary historian who is considered a ranking expert on the foodways of the African diaspora, Harris is this year's recipient of the lifetime achievement award, which is bestowed upon a person in the industry whose body of work has had a positive and long-lasting impact.
Throughout her five decades in the industry, Harris has authored, edited and translated 18 books, including "Hot Stuff: A Cookbook in Praise of the Piquant"; "Iron Pots and Wooden Spoons: Africa's Gifts to New World Cooking"; "Beyond Gumbo: Creole Fusion Food from the Atlantic Rim"; and "High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America."
She has also written extensively about the cultures of Africa and its diaspora for publications like "Essence," "Food & Wine," "Saveur" and "The New York Times."
Harris is now a Professor Emerita at Queens College/CUNY in New York City, after working as a professor there for 50 years.
This year's recipient of the humanitarian of the year award goes to Zero Foodprint (ZFP), a nonprofit organization dedicated to building renewable food systems rooted in healthy soil through partnerships with farmers and restaurateurs. ZFP works by investing in climate-beneficial agriculture and offering grants to farmers and ranchers to make the switch from extractive to renewable farming. For the first time this year, a $20,000 grant will be given to ZFP as part of their award.
This year's winners of the James Beard awards, which include best restaurants and chefs in the US, will be announced at a gala event in Chicago May 4.