Cast your nominations for the 2011 James Beard Foundation Awards

It's that time of year again, when chefs from all over the country send out e-mails begging their loyal customers to nominate them for a James Beard Foundation Award, otherwise known as the "Oscars of the food universe."

The 2011 nominations, which include various restaurant and chef categories -- Best Southwest Chef, Outstanding Restaurateur, Outstanding Pastry Chef, Rising Star Chef of the Year, Outstanding Restaurant and more -- will be announced in Portland, Oregon, on March 21, and the finalists will be revealed on May 9 at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall in New York City.

Nominations for the Restaurant and Chef Awards are now open, but in order to vote, you'll need to register (it's free) at www.jamesbeard.org/awards; you've got until December 31 to cast your submissions, which should obviously show love for Colorado-based cookers, sugar spinners, wine service professionals, restaurateurs and restaurants.

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