The James Beard Foundation announced the semifinalists for the 2011 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards today and two chefs plus one restaurateur from Utah made the cut!

Congratulations to chefs Bowman Brown and Viet Pham of Forage, who made the long list for Best Chef in the Southwest! And to Bill White, for Best Restaurateur!

And thank you, Utahns, for supporting fine cuisine.

Predictably, most of the Southwest semifinalists come from the biggies like Las Vegas and Dallas (here I have to give a personal shout-out to old friend Stephan Pyles) but the Foundation seems to making more of an effort to recognize talent outside the usual metro areas.

James Beard panelists will be casting votes until March 7-the finalists will be announced in Portland, Oregon on March 21, 2011. Winners will be announced at Lincoln Center in New York City on May 9, 2011.