Last year I was ready and made a push for a James Beard award. I felt like what we were doing at @addoseattle was unique, different, and s game changer.
I saw who was getting nominated, how they were getting nominated, and put a plan together. There is a PR person here that prided herself on having connections so I hired her and spent thousands.
I felt like that was one of the last steps I would need but I failed to realize that she also had to make sure her current clients were nominated as well.
So just in case I started a nominations campaign and asked my guests in my newsletter to nominate me as well. Lots of people wrote in and shared their emails with me. They we're all very sweet and genuine and it was awesome.
I was feeling pretty good about it. I feel like I had the checklist. I even had one of our team members write a story about how restaurants can benefit financially from a Beard award.
I've been on teams before that had won Beard awards and saw the impact of what they can do and I really wanted to evolve our restaurant into something more for our team because this restaurant thing is hard when you don't have investors and endless money.
When I came back to Seattle from Chicago I wanted to do something different here and started making a path. It is extremely hard to do something so different and unique and we have been rewarded in different ways with the rad guests and still being open.
However, at the time, I felt like a Beard was what we needed to get to that next level. I knew something was off though. We still haven't been reviewed by the main newspaper here so I knew that was going to be something from stopping us.
There was a starchefs thing in the city, they reached out, came over to the restaurant, were wowed, and then their list came out of starchefs in Seattle. I wasn't on it. So strike two I guess.
The nominations deadline came, passed, and then the long list came out. Nowhere on it. It kind of killed me inside. What else do I have to do? Our restaurant sucks. I suck. It's my fault. Fuck.
I knew it was going to be another year where I would have to ramp things up even more. Spend more? Go on tv or some shit? What else do I have to do? Who do I need to talk to? But, then I realized I didn't have that kind of money so I walked away from the PR person.
I doubled down on my ad strategy and we started to really grow. New Year's was so busy! December was dope, new record sales! January! February, oh wait, pandemic. It's cool, we'll figure it out. Keep the ad strategy going it's good!
I felt like I didn't need the oat on the back anymore or the recognition from it. I saw all these chefs that had won James Beard awards just whining about being shut down, not innovating, and generally just being pieces of shit.
I asked myself if I wanted to be associated with those types of people just to win an award now. Absofuckinglutelyno. If I can make it through this pandemic without one then getting one is silly.
They spent a year or so coming up with a list and they sat on it and almost pulled the trigger on the awards but then realized not having Black chefs on a list would be bad. How do you get that far and then just barely realize that?
I'll answer that question for them. It was set up to be that way. This entire time. It's a failed system. I always questioned why the American Classics winners never won regional chef awards.
The PR person had sent me a list of people that vote/nominate here in Seattle. So freaking white and no wonder why a chef that takes a trip to Sri Lanka can come back, open a restaurant here, and be nominated for it.
It made sense why there has been one Black chef that has won a Beard award a few years ago and that was the first Black chef to win an award...... In all this time of them doing it. Meanwhile, how many white chefs won awards for Southern food, Mexican food, and so on.
So why would I want one now? I don't. I'm over it. I've met some people who are judges for the award and some are cool but some are so fucking full of shit and they use that power for the wrong reasons.
The awards have created this false veil of who's who and who should be celebrated. @aliciakennedy nails it in her newsletter and if you don't subscribe to it then you really should.
As for me and any projects I do I will say that there is no way I want to be associated with the James Beard foundation.They don't need me and I don't need them and an award will just align me with a lot of the people in this industry that I detest that have won and are trash.
I urge you as people that go buy things at food places, don't fall I to the hype of critics, lists, and award winners. Be curious, go try it for yourself, and when you like it send an email or say thanks to the team, tell your friends, and go again.
Having regulars that support what we do is far more important than any award and we bend over backwards constantly to keep those guests coming back.
To the gatekeepers that have left a lot of amazing chefs, restaurants, and people genuinely trying because it didn't fit your narrative or the story of past winners, fuck you, I yield my time.

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More from @ericriveracooks

8 Jun
My restaurant is the only restaurant in Seattle that serves Puerto Rican food. Yup. Growing up in Olympia then working my way up I-5 to finally be in a position to open a restaurant has been insane.
However, this lechoncito project within my restaurant that has multiple concepts wouldn't be able to stand by itself as its own concept. Why? There really isn't demand for Puerto Rican food in Seattle.
Sure, everyone has their ideas of it. They vacationed there once or twice, lived on the east coast, are actually Puerto Rican or Latino or just like the food, etc.... But, doing this in Seattle is really different.
Read 28 tweets
28 May
Hello and welcome back to another edition of - Your Idea Sucks and Here's Why - Today I'll be talking about the idea of moving restaurants outside and why that idea sucks.
I've been reading a bunch of stories and reading people's comments about how to reopen restaurants and one dumb idea that is constantly being brought up is close down the streets and let the restaurants restaurant in the streets!
I like the idea of closing down the streets for other things like parks, riding bicycles, and moving cars that just sit around forever. Give people back the space! Yup agree there.
Read 15 tweets
25 Apr
I've had a lot of people reaching out to me about situations at their restaurants. Some horrifying. An example- restaurant closed, laid everyone off, the employees made a gofund me, the restaurant told them they couldn't use the restaurant's name in the GoFundMe.
Here's the GoFundMe. gofundme.com/f/virgil-villa…
So then the restaurant signs onto a sponsored thing by @MakersMark to do restaurant relief for workers. Meanwhile, the staff is left out in the cold. leeinitiative.org/#la
Read 11 tweets

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