The James Beard Foundation has called off its 2020 awards.

“We did not come to this decision lightly,” said Clare Reichenbach, the foundation’s chief executive, in a statement. “The uncertainty of this time for our industry is already a hard reality and considering anyone to have won or lost within the current tumultuous hospitality ecosystem does not in fact feel like the right thing to do.”

After announcing nominees in March, the foundation canceled its annual high-profile awards gala, scheduled for early May in Chicago, and later replaced it with an online program that was set for late September.

“Today the James Beard Foundation announced that its annual Awards program will not present winners in the remaining categories at the upcoming ceremony on Friday, Sept. 25, an unprecedented decision in the Awards’ 30-year history,” the foundation said in a statement. “The choice comes as restaurants continue to suffer the grave negative effects of COVID-19, and as substantial and sustained upheaval in the community has created an environment in which the Foundation believes the assignment of Awards will do little to further the industry in its current uphill battle. We look forward to bringing the Awards back when the industry is once again ready for them.”

Local nominees are Diane Moua of Spoon and Stable for Outstanding Pastry Chef, Demi for Best New Restaurant and Steven Brown of Tilia, Jamie Malone of Grand Cafe and Christina Nguyen of Hai Hai for Best Chef Midwest.

“I understand,” said Gavin Kaysen, chef/owner of Demi. “It’s such a weird time, and it was probably an inevitable decision. It’s sad and heartbreaking in a way, because Demi is never going to be able to get back into that awards category. It would have been such an incredible feather in our hat, for sure, but if we measure ourselves by awards, then what are we doing this for?”

This past weekend, chef David Kinch of Manresa in northern California took himself out of the running for the foundation’s Outstanding Chef award.

“This is purely a personal decision, and not a reflection on anyone else who will be rightly recognized by the Foundation this year,” he posted on Instagram. “The idea of celebrating achievement — and all that our @Manresarestaurant team has accomplished — simply does not feel right in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, and the devastation it has pressed upon our chosen métier and industry.”

In May, the foundation announced the 2020 winners in its media awards categories.

On Sept. 25, an abbreviated 2020 ceremony will be broadcast live via Twitter from Chicago — the city has played host to the awards gala since 2015 — to celebrate previously announced honorees, including the foundation’s Humanitarian of the Year (Zero Foodprint, a nonprofit dedicated to building a carbon-neutral, renewable food system) and Lifetime Achievement (culinary historian, educator and author Jessica B. Harris) categories.

The foundation has also canceled its traditional awards presentation for 2021.

“Any intent to hold a ceremony in 2021 based on 2020 work would be unfair and misguided, taking into account the unprecedented hardships which restaurants and potential nominees faced this year,” said the foundation in a statement. “Instead, the 2021 ceremony will be a celebration of the independent restaurant community who have shown leadership during this crisis and honoring those who have made a significant impact on the industry and in their communities.”

The foundation said that the awards will continue in 2022.