The James Beard Foundation was founded in 1985 at the suggestion of Julia Child and Peter Kump. It was their hope to keep alive the philosophies, goals, and ideals of  "The Father of American Gastronomy".
This not-for-profit organization is located in the heart of New York's Greenwich Village, in Beard's townhome. It is a culinary center for food professionals, sponsoring culinary events (which are open to the public). Each day culinary professionals from around the world come to The Beard House to prepare meals, conduct tastings, or lead classes. The house is also available for meetings for other not-for-profit groups. There is a library and archive which provide a wide range of resource material for culinary talents.
To date, it is the only known historical culinary center in North America.
The James Beard foundation also hosts events outside of New York. In 1990 "The James Beard Foundation Award" was founded. This award joined the two most recognized programs the "Tastemaker Book Award" and the "Who's Who of Food & Wine in America". This award celebrates the culinary artists of our time and provdes scholarships to help create the artisans of tomorrow. It has often been referred to as "the Oscars of the food world". This ceremony, held in May of each year, presents over 60 different awards in 6 categories. Some of the chefs we enjoy on television have been the recipients.
There are several levels of membership in the foundation. Each, of course, has its own special benefits and perks. Everyone receives special members pricing for all events, subscription to the monthly calendar, newsletter and Beard House Magazine, an annual restaurant directory, and access to the Foundation Library and Archives. The levels progress from this point. However, one does not need to be a member to particpate in some of the Foundations events, which are often open to the general public.
The information above was gathered, in part, at the following websites: