James Beard Foundation Award for Excellence medal


MARGATE – The city’s best-loved restaurateur will have to wait a little longer to find out if she is the recipient of one of the restaurant industry’s most coveted awards.

Cookie Till of Steve & Cookie’s By The Bay and No. 7311 small batch bakery in Ventnor was nominated for the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Restaurateur award.

Till said she was “blown away” by the nomination.

“I always follow these awards, but they are always restaurants in Philadelphia, New York and LA. You never expect it to happen to you,” she said shortly after learning she was nominated on Feb. 26.

The finalists are scheduled to be announced during a live press conference in Philadelphia on March 26, and everyone is expecting Till to make it to the final round. However, the coronavirus pandemic has prompted the organization to postpone until summer three awards ceremonies originally scheduled for May in New York City and Chicago.

“Of prime concern is the health and safety of our staff, volunteers, committee members, sponsors, nominees, and all attendees. We also recognize the responsibility of every organization and individual to do what they can to contain the spread of the virus,” the foundation said in a statement.

CDC Guidelines for Large Gatherings

The organization will work with its partners to set new dates for the awards ceremonies and “will work with chefs and others in the industry to navigate the complicated leadership challenges and the economic impact this pandemic may have on their businesses now and in the future.”

Steve & Cookies By The Bay remains open during the coronavirus crisis with enhanced protocols, Till said on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

She asked employees and guests to remain home if they are not feeling well and assured those who do visit the restaurant that Steve & Cookies is following CDC guidelines for cleaning and hygiene.

To comply with social distancing recommendations, the restaurant is also increasing space between tables, she said.

According to the foundation, chefs around the country are implementing measures to protect workers and patrons, such as:

  • Disinfecting all kitchen surfaces, equipment, doors, bathrooms, tables and chairs and other high-touch areas three times a day
  • Scheduling employees for mandatory hand washing breaks, and
  • Providing customers with hand sanitizer or wipes at check-in.

And, to reduce waste and costs, chefs are keeping food purchases to a minimum by removing specials and creating limited menus, the foundation noted.

The foundation offered ways for restaurant-goers to support the restaurant industry:

  • Consider purchasing gift cards, which provides restaurants with immediate income and can be redeemed later.
  • Consider take-out or delivery. Some restaurants are providing take-out or delivery. Although it’s not risk-free and delivery companies charge for their services, using a delivery service a way to patronize your favorite restaurant without leaving home.

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