St. Louis is slowly no longer becoming a “secret foodie town” nor a “hidden gem."

Several restaurants and chefs once again made the highly coveted list of the James Beard Federation semifinalists.

While they only represent a fraction of what makes the city so tasty, here’s a look behind why these six restaurants, chefs were nominated for this year’s JBF.

ASHLEY SHELTON | Sardella, Pastaria – Best Chef (Midwest)

Leading the kitchens at famed (and JBF-awarded) restaurateur Gerard Craft’s Clayton outposts, Sardella and Pastaria, isn’t a job to take lightly—but the 28-year-old St. Louis native says that does not mean she has to take herself too seriously, either.

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MICHAEL AND TARA GALLINA | Vicia – Best New Restaurant

Owners Tara and Michael Gallina say they are not surprised their vegetal and ever-changing menu is appealing to Midwest foodies, but they’re working to avoid a sophomore slump after getting so much national attention within their first year of opening.

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MIKE RANDOLPH | Privado, Publico – Best Chef (Midwest)

Perfecting Privado, adjacent to his other Delmar Loop staple Publico, has been a months-long process for Randolph. While it’s open only on weekends with very limited seating, the three-time JBF honored chef says the opportunities are limitless.

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VINCE BOMMARITO JR. | TONY’S – Outstanding Service

The “Hospitality Mentality” sign on the kitchen wall at this downtown Italian staple is just as important as any ingredient you’ll find on the shelves.

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LONA LUO | Lona's Lil Eats – Best Chef (Midwest)

Luo had no idea what it meant to be nominated for a JBF award. Now that she knows it’s a big deal, she’s just going to keep trying her own food (between accepting all the congratulations).

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BEN GRUPE | Elaia – Best Chef (Midwest)

The menu at his flagship restaurant, Elaia pays homage to classic cooking while inspiring you to find a new favorite.

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