Two female restaurant owners from Utah have been selected for the James Beard Foundation's first Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership Program, officials announced Thursday.

Bleu Adams, owner of the Black Sheep Cafe in Salt Lake City and Provo, and Kimi Eklund, of Kimi's Chop & Oyster House, also Salt Lake City, are among 21 women selected for the program's inaugural class.

They will travel to Babson College, in Boston, Sept. 10-15, where the curriculum will address issues of entrepreneurship and expansion. An emphasis on work/life balance and other cultural issues will be part of the program. Participants also will be linked with mentors who will provide support in the future.

The James Beard Foundation, the food and beverage industry's most prestigious professional organization, hopes the new initiative will help female chefs and owners grow their businesses and ultimately increase the number of women in the culinary industry. "Although women make up 50 percent of culinary school graduates, only 19 percent of executive chefs are female, and even fewer own their restaurants," said Susan Ungaro, foundation president.