In Memoriam: George Germon

This photo of George Germon and Johanne Killeen ran in promotion of their Beard House dinner in 2001


The James Beard Foundation is saddened by the news that culinary pioneer George Germon, co-owner with Johanne Killeen of Providence's acclaimed Al Forno, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 70. Before becoming a chef, Germon was a sculptor and was known as a renaissance man, in addition to being a mentor to many. Al Forno gained a national reputation for its pizza, which was grilled over charcoal at extremely high heat (up to 1200 degrees). Germon and Killeen were recipients of the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Northeast in 1993, and Al Forno was nominated for our Outstanding Restaurant Award in 1998, 1999, and 2000. "George's passion for life and ingredients came through his food," said Emily Luchetti, fellow JBF Award winner and chair of the Foundation's board of trustees. "At Al Forno, he and Johanne were pioneers in using regional ingredients from Rhode Island in their traditional Italian... Read more >

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In Memoriam: Paul Prudhomme


The James Beard Foundation was saddened to hear that Paul Prudhomme, who many say was the first celebrity restaurant chef, has passed away at the age of 75. Prudhomme was the first American-born executive chef at Commander's Palace in New Orleans, and shot to further culinary fame when he opened K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen in 1980. "As our Foundation is about to celebrate the many great chefs and cuisine of New Orleans this weekend, we will miss and mourn the passing of  the great Paul Prudomme," said JBF president Susan Ungaro. "He was one of our country's first, best-loved celebrity chefs and had a huge influence on America's love for his home city and its exceptional food scene. New Orleans's loss is also America's."


Photo by Rick Bolen

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In Memoriam: Willie Mae Seaton


The James Beard Foundation was saddened to hear the news that Willie Mae Seaton, owner of Willie Mae's Scotch House in New Orleans, passed away on Friday, September 18, at the age of 99. In 2005, the James Beard Foundation named Willie Mae's Scotch House an America's Classic, and Willie Mae Seaton traveled to New York City to accept the restaurant's honor at that year's James Beard Awards. Later that year, Hurricane Katrina destroyed the restaurant, and it was rebuilt and reopened in 2007. "Hurricane Katrina may have put Willie Mae in the national news, but she was considered a culinary icon of New Orleans long before," said JBF president Susan Ungaro. "Her fried chicken was legendary but her incredible warmth and hospitality made her a treasure to us all. We were lucky to have her as a friend into her 99th year."

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In Memoriam: Kerry Simon


We are deeply saddened by the news that Kerry Simon, chef of several acclaimed restaurants including Carson Kitchen in Las Vegas and others across the country, passed away at the age of 60. Simon had long been suffering from MSA (multiple system atrophy), a severe and rare form of Parkinson's disease. “Kerry Simon was an exciting and inspiring chef, and we were honored to know him and have him as a friend and supporter of our Foundation,” said JBF president Susan Ungaro. “While our community has suffered a great loss, we know that his legacy will leave a lasting mark on the culinary landscape.” Famously dubbed the “Rock ‘n’ Roll Chef” by Rolling Stone magazine, Simon was still actively working on new projects, including a new gastropub in Nevada, despite being confined to a wheelchair. During his lauded career, Simon opened restaurants all over the world for industry icon Jean-Georges Vongerichten, catered tours for Led Zeppelin and other rock stars, won the... Read more >

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In Memoriam: Gerry Hayden


We are deeply saddened by the passing of acclaimed chef and restaurateur Gerry Hayden yesterday at the age of 50. “Chef Gerry Hayden had a profound influence on our culinary community both as a leader in the farm-to-table movement and as a man whose battle with ALS inspired everyone who saw him continue to do what he and his wife Claudia loved—to create a delicious and noteworthy restaurant,” said James Beard Foundation president Susan Ungaro. “We are proud to have had him as a friend and supporter of our mission.” Hayden cooked several times at the Beard House and at our annual Chefs & Champagne event, and was a four-time James Beard Award nominee for Best Chef: Northeast. Since 2006, Hayden has been running the lauded North Fork Table & Inn in Southold, New York, with his wife, Claudia Fleming. He will be sorely missed, and our thoughts are with his... Read more >

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In Memoriam: Walter Scheib


We are saddened to hear of the untimely passing of former White House chef Walter Scheib at 61. "Walter was a great friend of our Foundation and a great storyteller with a unique and fascinating perspective on American history," said JBF president Susan Ungaro. Scheib was White House chef for more than a decade under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, where he was known for highlighting American cuisine and ingredients. After leaving the White House he participated in several of our events, including a number of JBF Celebrity Chef Tour events, was featured at our Beard on Books educational series, and has cooked in the James Beard House kitchen. 

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In Memoriam: Josh Ozersky


We are deeply saddened by the unexpected passing of James Beard Award–winning American food writer Josh Ozersky yesterday in Chicago at the age of 47. "Everyone who knew Josh admired his passion for the culinary and literary arts," said James Beard Foundation president Susan Ungaro. "His wise and witty writing had a profound impact on all of us." Ozersky won a James Beard Award in 2008 for his work as founding editor of New York magazine's blog, Grub Street, and was a member of the James Beard Foundation Awards committee. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and colleagues.


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In Memoriam: Homaro Cantu


The James Beard Foundation is deeply saddened by the news of acclaimed chef Homaro Cantu's passing yesterday at the age of 38. "The culinary community mourns the tragic loss of chef Homaru Canto, an immensely talented chef and friend of the James Beard Foundation,” said JBF president Susan Ungaro. “I fondly recall visiting his hydroponic farm at Moto last year and enjoyed his contagious enthusiasm for the next new thing. We will never know what more he could have accomplished. His loss is ours.”


Donations in his honor can be made to: 
Cantu Childrens Trust
1555 Sherman, Box 177
Evanston, IL 60201​

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In Memoriam: Matt Haley

Matt Haley

The James Beard Foundation is deeply saddened by the sudden and tragic death of Delaware restaurateur and philanthropist Matt Haley, who passed away last night at the age of 53, after suffering injuries in an accident while on a humanitarian trip. Haley, who was honored with the 2014 James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year award, was a selfless advocate for underprivileged youth in America and abroad, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities and nonprofits.


"Our Foundation honored Matt this year not only for his compassion and commitment to helping disadvantaged children and families locally in Delaware, but also for dedicating his time and resources to help people around the world," said JBF president Susan Ungaro. "We are shocked and saddened by the news of his death. He was on his way to Nepal to do the relief work for which he was so beloved. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family and friends in the restaurant community of Delaware and to the thousands of people... Read more >

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In Memoriam: Judy Rodgers

In Memoriam: Judy Rodgers


We are incredibly sad to hear that chef Judy Rodgers passed away last night at the age of 57. "Judy Rodgers was not only one of America's greatest chefs, having been honored with a JBF Outstanding Chef Award in 2004, but she also epitomized the joy of casual fine cooking as a way to bring people together at her iconic and popular Zuni Café," said JBF president Susan Ungaro. "Her humility and creative genius were legendary. She was an avid note taker, always looking for and jotting down new ways to improve on a dish. I can still picture her with a pencil tucked into her upswept hair. Our foundation has lost a friend and San Francisco has lost a legend."


As an Outstanding Chef award winner, Rodgers was profiled in The James Beard Foundation's Best of the Best. Read author Kit Wohl's piece below.




When a beautiful woman is also a famous, celebrated chef, life is rarely fraught with glamor. With no. 2 pencils securing her topknot and... Read more >

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