Vega Grill, Philadelphia

Age: 42

background: Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Worked at Cafe Casanova (/sites/default/files/ knew that name would come back to haunt me) and The Rittenhouse Hotel, Philadelphia; Allioli, Miami.

How he got into cooking: "I always had great parties, and my friends said I should open a restaurant."

Menu bomb: Mondongo, or tripesoup. "But when I call it pepper pot, customers order it."

Favorite place to eat: Patria, New York City.

Secret of his success: His staff.

Weirdest food he's ever eaten: Bull testicles on a ranch outside Buenos Aires. "Delicious, actually."

Food vice: Chocolate. "My daughter hides her candy from me."

Recipe tip: Use very coarse polenta to give tamales better texture.

Info: 4141 Main St.; 215-487-9600.

    By Kate Krader and Monica F. Forrestall