Tony Maws

Why Because he's the quintessential hands-on chef who's fanatical about every element in his modern French cooking. "I don't spend thousands of bucks on flowers, but I go bonkers to get the best ingredients," he says.

Born Boston; 1970.

Experience The Blue Room, East Coast Grill and Clio, in the Boston area; La Folie, San Francisco; Larivoire, Lyon, France.

How he got his first food job "I was 15 and looking for a summer job; I had no clue about the business so I sent out a resumé and cover letter. I was hired as a dishwasher on Martha's Vineyard and worked some crazy 15-hour days, eating lobster claws and lamb chops."

Most humbling moment "Working as a chef is always pretty humbling. I can cook the most perfect halibut in olive oil and then someone will send it back and say, 'It's not hot enough.'"

Most exotic menu item "In Boston, it's all relative. Cock's combs? Duck tongues? I have lots of animal parts floating around my kitchen, lots of heads peeking out of freezers."

Most memorable meal Lunch at Michel Bras in Laguiole, France. "I drove five hours to eat there. Bras sent out a roasted chicken and I thought, 'Are you kidding me?' But it blew me away—it was like a dozen chickens in one. After lunch, I just sat in my car for hours. I couldn't get over it."

Won Best New Chef at: Craigie Street Bistrot; Cambridge, MA