Rob Evans

Why Because his new American cuisine gracefully combines creativity with an obsession for local ingredients; few chefs treat Maine seafood with more reverence.

Born Southborough, MA, 1963.

Experience Goose Cove Lodge, Deer Isle, ME; The Inn at Little Washington, Washington, VA; The French Laundry, Yountville, CA.

Why he became a chef "I went to school to be an electrician—that's what my cousins and my uncles do, and everyone's making a lot of money. But it didn't work for me. Then when I was 19, I got a job at a little family restaurant; I was hooked."

Biggest influences His father and French Laundry chef Thomas Keller. "My dad is from Newfoundland, Canada, where there's all this fish—he made seafood a big part of my life. And I was blown away by Thomas. Everything he does is exact. His kitchen is run like a hospital." ingredient obsession "I'm having a big love affair with cod right now."

Favorite thing about Portland The ingredients. "Browne Trading Company [the esteemed seafood purveyor] is right down the street from me."

What keeps him going "My fiancée, Nancy Pugh, my partner at Hugo's. We're bonded like soldiers."

Advice to future chefs "Get in with good people early on. And forget about having a life for five years."

Won Best New Chef at: Hugo's; Portland, ME