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Marisa Baggett
Age: 32
Sushi chef, Tsunami Restaurant
Memphis, Tenn.

Walk into any sushi bar and you'll find menu items like bluefin tuna and salmon rolls. Well, almost any sushi bar. In Memphis, where Marisa Baggett is fast becoming known for her spin on the centuries-old food, local crawfish and duck are usually the specials.

"I'm a black sushi chef from Mississippi. No one expects me to be traditional," Baggett says.

Baggett, 32, is the head sushi chef at Tsunami Restaurant in Memphis, a small joint that favors menu items like sake steamed mussels and roasted sea bass over the city's typical barbeque fare. Baggett usually offers four to five sushi options a night, from duck to crawfish to vegetarian. Bagget says the restaurant prefers to serve locally raised fish instead of tuna to protect against overfishing in Asia and elsewhere.

"You typically go to sushi bar and the menu is the same," she says. "For me it's the opposite. I come into work and see what I have."

NEXT: Sonja Finn

Last updated December 02 2009: 5:47 PM ET
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