James Beard Foundation announces 2011 chef and restaurant finalists -- and two are from Colorado

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Earlier today, in Portland, the James Beard Foundation released the listage of superstar chefs, restaurants and restaurateurs who are finalists (semifinalists, of which there were several from Colorado, were announced in February) for the James Beard Awards. The winners will be announced on May 9, in New York City, and two of Colorado's finest are vying for the crown -- although one of the Colorado finalists will no longer be a resident of Colorado with the winners are revealed.

And that's Ryan Hardy, the executive chef of the Little Nell, who will abandon his position there in mid-April and head to New New York City to open his own restaurant, which could make it slightly awkward if he ends up snagging the medal for Best Chef: Southwest -- the category in which he's a finalist.

In addition, Frasca Food and Wine, whose wine program is overseen by co-owner and master sommelier Bobby Stuckey, is a finalist in the Outstanding Wine Service Award category -- an honor bestowed on a "restaurant that displays and encourages excellence in wine service through a well-presented wine list, a knowledgeable staff, and efforts to educate customers about wine."

And while Olivea and Duo pastry queen Yasmin Lozada-Hissom, who was a semifinalist in the Outstanding Pastry Chef category, didn't advance to the finals, she, too, will be at the James Beard Foundation awards, cooking at the gala.

Congrats -- and good luck -- to the finalists from Colorado.

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