Questions Linger for Beard Foundation (NYT)

By NICK FOX

ON Monday the year’s biggest gathering of chefs, food journalists, and other culinary professionals and amateurs will convene at one of the grander locales in New York, Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, for the James Beard Foundation Awards.

It will be quite a step up from the ballroom at the Marriott Marquis, the longtime venue for the food world’s most prestigious awards.

After cleaning up an embezzlement scandal that led to the imprisonment of the foundation’s former president, the current president, Susan Ungaro, said it was time for the organization to show some pride and have some fun.

“The foundation needed to take its rightful place as a place of excitement, and a place of intelligent planning,” Ms. Ungaro said, “after a few years of hard knocks.”

But the hard knocks continue more than two years after the former president, Leonard F. Pickell Jr., and later the entire board of directors, resigned. While it is being run more professionally and openly, the organization is in worse shape financially. And questions about its mission that were raised by the scandal have not all been resolved.

After being robbed by a president who worked for years without pay, and few fiscal controls, the foundation now has a salaried president (who earns $225,000) and chief financial officer, auditors and a bigger professional staff. (more. . .)

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