Legal Sea Foods President Dives Into James Beard Foundation “Who’s Who” Hall of Fame

Posted May 11, 2017 by Jon Erik Christianson in Eat & Drink
Legal Crossing is an urban neighborhood restaurant inspired by the vibrancy of Downtown Crossing, then and now.

After decades as a staple on the New England culinary landscape, Legal Sea Foods, through the success of its President and CEO Roger Berkowitz, has now made a national “splash” thanks to the prestigious James Beard Foundation Awards. As part of the organization’s annual awards nominations, Berkowitz has been inducted into its “Who’s Who of Food in America” hall of fame.

The James Beard Foundation, named after its eponymous chef and cookbook author, works, according to its website, to “celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders” and support culinary innovation and diversity across the country. For nearly 30 years, its annual awards, colloquially called “the Oscars of food,” have served to recognize those who advance these goals.

One aspect of these awards is the “Who’s Who of Food in America,” which annually collects the most honored industry titans into a permanent hall of fame.

“Each has been identified by his or her peers as having displayed remarkable talent and achievement,” the website copy explains. “Every member of the Who’s Who has contributed in some substantial way to America’s constantly evolving culinary scene.”

Berkowitz joins four others — including chefs, restaurant owners, and a sommelier — as the 2017 inductees into the Who’s Who. He’s also one of ten honorees from New England included across both the Who’s Who and the general awards nominations. Five of those nominees are honored specifically for their restaurants in the Boston metropolitan area.

Berkowitz has been honored for his work as the president and CEO of Legal Sea Foods, which currently has 34 locations across six states — Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Georgia — and the District of Columbia. The franchise first opened as a fish market in 1950 and evolved officially into a restaurant brand in 1968. Since then, Legal Sea Foods has also opened an online marketplace and now delivers fresh fish anywhere across the contiguous United States.

Many of the franchise’s Boston-based locations have been tailored specifically to blend into their neighborhoods’ personalities. One such example is Legal Crossing, the urban restaurant found here in Downtown Crossing. It features all the classic culinary quality people expect from the Legal Sea Foods name while adding extra panache to the style and menu. The site’s interior design reflects the cutting edge style of downtown and its cocktail options mirror its punchy personality. It’s a popular fixture that represents the area’s ongoing cultural renaissance.

According to his biography on the Legal Sea Foods website, Berkowitz supervises the restaurant, retail and mail order divisions and leads the company’s more than 4,000 employees. He holds several leadership and board positions across many Boston and New England-based organization, thus making himself a vital fixture in the local community. He has previously been nominated by the James Beard Foundation Awards as a semi-finalist for “Outstanding Restauranteur.”

Legal Sea Foods has long been an iconic fixture in Boston, and seeing it honored by such a prestigious awards organization reveals how impactful New England-based talent can be on the national scale. As people bustle along Boston’s busy city streets and catch glimpses of its many Legal Sea Foods locations, they can take pride in knowing that Roger Berkowitz helped elevate this New England staple to national distinction.