Rudyard Kipling once waxed poetic about the national Peruvian spirit, pisco, deeming it “the shavings of cherubs’ wings, the glory of a tropical dawn, the red clouds of sunset, and the fragments of lost epics by dead masters.”

James Walt is, in ways beyond counting, in ways completely authentic and natural, the antithesis of a screaming, knife-throwing, plate-shattering, ire-laden celebrity chef. And as he sits at a corner table at his restaurant, Araxi, a few minutes before kitchen service begins to really ramp up for a busy evening, he is a model of aplomb and control.