Monday, June 17, 2024

Fed Up: James Beard Foundation Prez Gets Twice as Much as They Give in Scholarships


Tonight: the embattled James Beard Foundation gives a bunch of awards to restaurateurs. On Friday, they handed out their journalism and media awards. I’m told the food was lousy, which is funny.

Not so funny: the Foundation is a not for profit, 501 c 3. Set up in memory of the famed chef James Beard in a townhouse on West 12th St., the Foundation lists its mission “to celebrate, nurture, and honor America’s diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire.”

Ten years ago, in 2004, the Foundation was embroiled in a huge scandal over misappropriation of funds. Members of the board resigned. It was a big mess.  The New York Times reported that “an internal audit had found that the former board president, Leonard F. Pickell Jr., had misused hundreds of thousands of dollars in foundation money.” Of $4.7 million in income, only $29,000 was used for scholarships. He was later convicted of fraud.

Susan Ungaro, former editor of Family Circle magazine, replaced Pickell in 2006.

The group’s Form 990 for 2012 suggests not much has changed.

These numbers should make everyone attending Monday night’s event a little queasy:

Total revenue in 2012 was $7 million.

Their expenses for 2012 came to a whopping $6.7 million

Salary of president Susan Ungaro: $335,910

Amount doled out in scholarships: $168,955.

Thirty eight culinary students received a total of $161,215 in scholarships. Two students divided $7,740 for travel and culinary study grants.

Another $70,000 was divided between the Mario Batali Foundation ($20,000) and one named for French legend Paul Bocuse ($50,648). Back in 2004, Batali admitted to the New York Times: “I vote on best chef Southeast with perhaps never having eaten at any of the contending chefs’ restaurants, which in truth results in little more than a popularity contest.”

Even the event planner for the 2012 James Beard Awards, David Bowen of Philadelphia, got more about twice as much as  the students; he received $296,000.

Indeed total salaries for 2012 broken down this way:

$628,746 to current officers.

Other salaries and wages: $1.5 million

Other employee benefits $242,767

Payroll taxes: 153,360

“Other”: $922,074. That’s almost a million dollars for unspecified something. Spatulas?

And the “other” didn’t include “office expenses.” They were listed as $400,836. That’s a lot of napkins.





Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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