(August 19, 2013) NEW YORK, NY – This year when top chefs, tennis players and other celebrities take to green carpet at the W Hotel in New York City and then prepare food for Taste of Taste tennis they will be raising money to benefit the James Beard Foundation.
Most people know the James Beard Foundation as the organization whose awards are the “Oscars of the culinary world.” In addition to the awards, the foundation located in West Greenwich Village also gives our scholarships to students.
“Our foundation has been awarding financial aid to deserving students since 1991, since then we have awarded more than 4.6 million dollars in financial aid,” said James Beard Foundation Susan Ungaro.
James Beard was an American chef and food writer who is credited with bringing French cooking to the masses in the 1950’s He established an identity of American gourmet food. He authored over two dozen books and has a foundation that bears his name. He has been called the “Father of American Gastronomy.”
“James was the first food personality to be on television even before Julia Child,” Ungaro said.
“James Beard was quite philanthropic,” Ungaro continued. “He co-founded City Meals on Wheels.
“James Beard would have been humbled that there’s a foundation as a tribute to his leadership in recognizing the fact that all Americans should cook in season, enjoy fine dining but also understand sustainability and eating local as well.”
It seems a natural fit that Taste of Tennis should raise money for a foundation which helps to develop the culinary arts.
AYS President and CEO Penny Lerner discussed how the two entities came together: AYS (who is the producer of the Taste of Tennis event) also does marketing and consultation, away from our life as the Taste of Tennis. Actually one of our clients Rums of Puerto Rico, I’ve negotiated a deal with the James Beard for the past 6 years to be one of the lead sponsors of the James Beard Awards. They are the highest honor of food and beverage professionals in North America they are the Oscars of the food industry. The actual awards which are in May. Some of our clients have been part of the James Beard Awards and I have been running the account for them and learning a lot about James Beard and the foundation and the awards and the impact they make on the culinary world and we started to see how they are viewed, and how they view themselves. We thought that this is a perfect match for us since they are the bar of excellence in the culinary world. Bringing the two together hits a nice international front.”
“They approached us through our director of sponsorship,” said Ungaro. It seemed like a natural to join Taste of Tennis in New York tied to the US Open and there’s a foundation, the James Beard Foundation which awards scholarships and recognizes the best of the best of the food industry and we’re a non-profit so I think they just thought it was the year to reach out and work with a culinary foundation as part of their taste of tennis celebration.”
With world No. 1 and defending US Open champion Serena Williams as this year’s host of Taste of Tennis, it will mark the first time a tennis player will serve as the host of the event.
“It’s the first time that a tennis player is actually hosting the event,” Lerner said. So this is a new experience for us and for her and we’re glad she came last year and had a great time and wanted to come back and be the host of it. We’re super excited.”
“Players seem to be wanting to do more things than just come to the event, they seem to be wanting to participate more. With the higher level of chefs and the higher interest of tennis players we can do more creative things on the sponsorship side and just the event side in itself.”
So what would James Beard who passed away in 1985, think about Taste of Tennis:
“He would be thrilled,” Ungaro said. “Clearly he would be somebody who also cared about teaching. He wrote over 2 dozen cook books and he taught cooking classes here in the Village for years and I know he would also be very excited by the fact that Taste of Tennis would be raising money four our foundations scholarship mission.