Two key ingredients make up Lona Luo’s philosophy at her popular Chinese eatery in St. Louis’ Fox Park neighborhood: great food and excellent service.
The Lona’s Lil Eats chef suspects that both had something to do with her being named a James Beard Award semifinalist earlier this year.
“That’s what they are looking for all the time, no matter what, no matter where,” Luo said of the recent recognition during a conversation this week on St. Louis on the Air.
Joining her and host Don Marsh for this month’s Sound Bites segment was Sauce Magazine staff writer Matt Sorrell, who emphasized just how impressive Luo’s recent nomination is.
“You’ll hear this said all the time, that the Beard awards are like the Oscars of the culinary world, and they really are a big deal … careers have been made by winning these awards,” Sorrell said. “It was a little unusual this year because we had six nominees [in St. Louis] altogether.”
Luo was born in a Chinese village without electricity and said that her background has infused her approach to her fresh and natural cuisine, which Sorrell described as “deceptively simple.”
“I very much like the bamboo stew … the spicy eggplant I like a lot,” he said when asked about some of his favorite offerings at Luo’s restaurant. “And then one of my pet peeves is I really like tofu, but tofu is very hard to cook [well], so a lot of places it gets very rubbery, and Lona’s has some of the very best tofu.”
Listen to the full conversation:
St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.