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Chef Maria J. Gil Lamadrid stared Boca Tacos and Tequila on Speedway almost 5 years ago. She loves what she does just as much today, if not more, crediting her daily-changing salsas for keeping her on her toes, challenging her creativity and forcing her to think outside of the box. Her tacos, cocktails and salsa are all award-winning, and Chef Maria has competed in Iron Chef Tucson. Check out Chef Maria doing her thing at Boca, located at near the University at 828 E. Speedway Blvd.

C.J. Hamm, cjhamm@tucsonweekly.com

What was the first dish you had that changed your perspective on food? To be honest with you, food in general changed my perspective on food. In my early 20s, I started watching and reading more about food and that got me into trying stuff that I would not have tried in a million years. Then I started cooking and playing with different flavors, while not being afraid to fail. Well, the rest is history.  What are you eating these days? Anything salad! Pho is a must. And sushi at least 2 times a week. What was the first dish you remember cooking?

As a professional chef, my very very first dish I made was a seafood soup! I remember everything about it. I had so much fun that day, I swear. I knew then I would be doing this forever.

What concept, ingredient or food trend does everyone seem to love, but you just can't stomach? That is a very easy one. I hate mayonnaise with all my heart! I will not touch anything that contains the stuff. I think it takes over the food and that is a no no! What chef, with us or passed on, would you most like to cook or eat dinner with? Well, I will have to say Julia Child. Imagine having a meal with her? Wow! Also, David Chang. He is a very honest and fearless chef. He does what works for him and is honest with true flavors of food. What city, other than Tucson, is your favorite place to eat? I would say Mexico! I mean there is no place like home. But Vegas is super fun; you can go from eating at a fancy place to eating out of plastic on the Strip, but it is always awesome and fun.  Speaking in junk food terms, what is your favorite guilty pleasure? My god, papitas!!! They are Mexican chips, like Doritos, but better. I eat them with lime, chile and a bunch of other stuff. Has to be everything all in the bag. That is a must. Top three Tucson restaurants? Wow, that is a hard one! Well besides BOCA, I will have to say Kingfisher, Kimchi Time and Pho 88.     With a figurative electric chair in your immediate future, what is your last meal?

This one took me a while to think about, but I always came back to the same answer!  The Sonoran hotdogs on the corner of my parents' neighborhood in my home town in Sonora!

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