James McDevitt

Background Born in San Diego. Trained at the Scottsdale Culinary Institute. Worked at RoxSand in Phoenix.

First food memory "When I was nine, I ordered chicken in a restaurant in Korea, but I got pig intestines. I kept saying, 'Why is this so weird?' No one told me until I'd finished."

Mentor His mother. A military family, the McDevitts lived all over the world. His mother, who is Japanese, learned American cooking so her kids would always feel at home.

Menu bomb Pomegranate-glazed squab with butternut squash puree and foie gras. "Chefs who came in loved it, but it just did not sell."

Dish he could eat every day "Anything my wife makes." (Stacey McDevitt is the pastry chef at Hapa.)

Ingredient he loves now "I use Chinese broccoli in everything."

What he eats at 1 A.M. Burritos.

Best thing about cooking in Phoenix The long produce season.

Favorite kitchen tool Japanese MAC knives. "They never seem to lose their edge."

Strangest customer request Monkey brains. "We said no."

Recipe tip Always use a spoon to peel ginger; it will scrape away only the outermost skin and leave the juiciest part behind.

Won Best New Chef at: Hapa, Scottsdale, AZ (closed)