If you’ve ever eaten at Buccan (350 S. County Rd., 561/833-3450), the stellar Palm Beach restaurant from Miami transplant Clay Conley, you know why getting a table there is only slightly less difficult than finding snowflakes on Worth Avenue in mid-July.

Now all that hard work and great food has paid off, as Conley nabbed a 2012 “Best Chef South” nomination from the James Beard Foundation (of which, I’ll gladly admit, I am a voting member). Joining Conley on the nomination list from South Florida are Jeff McInnis of Yardbird and Jose Mendin of Pubbelly, both in Miami.

Yardbird is also among the “Best New Restaurant” contenders, proof positive that McInnis is a lot more than just another “Top Chef” contestant flash in the pan. Only one more SoFla chef got a James Beard nod this year—that would be Hedy Goldsmith, whose alchemist touch with desserts at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Miami’s Design District, took a well-earned nomination for Outstanding Pastry Chef.

Now all there is to do is wait for the votes to be counted and the results announced at the annual James Beard awards ceremony on Monday, May 7.