CHICAGO – Denise Cerreta of Canton, Ohio, founder of One World Everybody Eats, received the James Beard Foundation’s 2017 Humanitarian of the Year Award on behalf of the organization on May 1 at the Chicago Lyric Opera during the Foundation’s annual award ceremonies.
The James Beard Awards celebrate chefs and restaurant leaders and recognize visionary individuals and organizations working in the food industry. The Humanitarian of the Year award is given to an individual or organization working in the realm of food who has given selflessly and worked tirelessly to better the lives of others and society at large. The televised ceremony was hosted by Jesse Tyler Ferguson, of ABC’s award-winning Modern Family.
One World Everybody Eats is an international nonprofit dedicated to creating food security through its network of pay-what-you-can community cafes. These cafes have served over 2 million meals, 30 percent of which were served to people of less means. Under the organization’s platform, each cafe is committed to serving appealing, nutritious, locally sourced meals with dignity to everyone, while ultimately changing communities and their perspective on hunger.
In introducing Cerreta, Presenter Art Smith, chef and past Humanitarian of the Year, called her “a culinary superhero” for her work in creating a cafe environment “where all felt welcomed and left with full hearts and full stomachs.” He went on to say, “A good idea has wings, and Denise proceeded to mentor people across the country in how to create their own cafes.” Before accepting the award, Cerreta was honored by a 5-minute video which documented the results of her visionary efforts over the last 14 years.
“I am honored to accept this on behalf of all the cafes in our network,” Cerreta said in receiving the award in front of a crowd of 2,500. With regard to innovation and food security, Cerreta said, "It's about freeing ourselves up and following where Spirit leads. It's in our hearts, it's around our table, and it's everywhere love is genuine and real."
One World Everybody Eats board member Debbi Casini-Klein of Pittsburgh reflected on the leadership Cerreta has provided, saying, “Through Denise’s guidance and unwavering commitment to assist those in need, she has helped facilitate an amazing community of cafe owners and volunteers throughout the country and abroad who are also working to end food insecurity and hunger.” Board member Chris May, of Vilas, North Carolina, added, “What has always impressed me the most about Denise are her open nature, her optimistic perseverance, and her humble spirit. These traits seem to describe most of our cafe operators as well and, I think, are characteristics that draw people to cafe communities.”
In 2003, One World Everybody Eats began as a small café in Salt Lake City, Utah. As owner, Cerreta noticed her patrons were struggling to make ends meet and, in what she describes as her ‘field of dreams’ experience, she decided to begin letting them pay what they could for their meals. Nearly 50 million Americans are food insecure, meaning families and individuals are accessing emergency food pantries, even scavenging or stealing, to meet their nutrition needs so that they do not go hungry. To address this issue, One World Everybody Eats supports the pay-what-you-can cafe model that helps communities increase food security at the local level.
Since its inception, more than 60 cafes have implemented the model, including Panera Bread and the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation for which Cerreta provided cafe opening guidance. Dozens of other cafes are currently in development in eight countries.
About One World Everybody Eats
One World Everybody Eats is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated to increasing food security and building community through its pay-what-you-can nonprofit restaurant model. It supports more than 60 existing and dozens of start-up cafes in its network with expert consultation, best practices, and networking opportunities. Learn more at: www.oneworldeverybodyeats.org
About the James Beard Awards
Established in 1990, with the first awards ceremony held in May 1991, the James Beard Foundation Awards have been referred to as the “Oscars” of the restaurant world and showcase the country’s top culinary talent. Awards are given in numerous categories from chefs to restaurants, to books to journalism, to broadcast media and restaurant design, as well as lifetime achievement and humanitarian awards. Judges are chosen by the governing committee for each awards category and are all considered experts in their fields. Learn more at: www.jamesbeard.org/awards-2