What It Really Means To Win The Julia Child Award

Ever wondered what it really means to win The Julia Child Award? Well, we've got the scoop for you. In the culinary stratosphere, awards abound, but The Julia Child Award stands distinct. In 2015, The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts founded this accolade. Since its inception, The Julia Child Award has recognized luminaries who've redefined America's gastronomic narrative. More than a nod to culinary prowess, it celebrates an embodiment of Julia Child's enduring values, including activism, education, mentorship, and innovation.

Each year, a committee called The Jury sees its members deliberate and pick an individual or team who has made a significant difference in the food world within the U.S. Aside from recognition and accolades, The Julia Child Award recipient receives a "uniquely designed award engraved with his/her name and year of honor." In addition, per the Julia Child Foundation, they're given a $50,000 grant to gift "to the food-related non-profit of the recipient's choosing."

Annually, a gala commemorates the award's recipient, and The 9th Annual Julia Child Award Gala is slated for October 24 at the Depot's Grand Hall, Minneapolis. (An individual ticket sells for $400 and corporations and the wealthy can sponsor a table starting at $10,000 or a private table for $25,000).

Want to win a Julia Child Award? You better be a trailblazer

In 2015, the first recipient of The Julia Child Award was Jacques Pépin, a culinary powerhouse who needs little introduction. Rick Bayless, Danny Meyer, Susan Feniger, Mary Sue Milliken, José Andrés, and Danielle Nierenberg were the subsequent winners of The Julia Child Award. Come 2021, The Julia Child Award went to its first female BIPOC awardee, Toni Tipton-Martin, an International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) and James Beard winner who spotlighted stories of African-American chefs in American cuisine. The following year, the award recognized Grace Young, an activist for New York City's Chinatown, an esteemed cookbook author, and a proclaimed wok star.

Fast-forward to 2023 and the limelight has settled on Sean Sherman. Beyond his accolades as a James Beard Award winner and cookbook author, Sherman's claim to fame is his groundbreaking work with the North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems (NĀTIFS). His commitment to rejuvenating Indigenous food cultures aligns seamlessly with what The Julia Child Award represents, marking him a torch bearer of Julia Child's legacy. 

As for the future, it's hard not to root for J. Kenji López-Alt as a future Julia Child Award winner. Not only does he have multiple awards and accolades in the food world, but his activism in raising money for causes like No Kid Hungry, and his mentorship of the next generation of gastronomes is worth applauding.