Sweets by 5ftLatina's Kathryn James: Caramelpalooza Candymakers 2013

As the chefs competing in Smeeks and Chow Bella's fourth annual Caramelpalooza -- coming 7 p.m. Friday, April 5, at UNION -- get out the candy thermometers, we've got our pens ready to introduce you to the faces behind the caramel.

Like may people out there, Kathryn James is all about New Year's resolutions. "I have this tradition of wanting to do something new on New Year's Eve," says James as she recounts the one year she attempted to make presumably easy peppermint bark without a thorough knowledge of chocolate or tempering.

See Also: Announcing the Caramel Makers for Smeeks & Chow Bella's Caramelpalooza 2013! Twist Caramel's Donna Croyle and Julie Schobert: Caramelpalooza 2013

Unlike most of our fickle resolutions, however, James took her most recent one and turned it into a business. Falling in love with truffles, and more specifically chocolate, James was encouraged by her friends to capitalize on her sweet skills and create Sweets by 5ftLatina.

Having now been in business a little over a year, James' products such as spicy dark chocolate caramel popcorn and spicy chocolate truffles can now be found at LuLu's Boutique and Vintage Green Old Town Treasures in Glendale.

So what can we expect from this first-time Caramelpalooza chef? We're not exactly sure, but we do know one thing: "I try not to make anything that's not chocolate."

I top my ice cream sundaes with . . . hot fudge, whipped creams, and as many cherries as I can get away with.

If you're going to get me caramel, it better be . . . it better be good.

Three things I can't do without in the kitchen: my orange spatula, my instant-read thermometer, and I have an enormous baking pan that I use to hold the popcorn an pour the caramel.

My favorite person to eat with is . . . my husband. Too easy.

My new obsession is . . . it's still the chocolate. It wakes me up at 3 in the morning. I wake my husband and say "Oh! What about this?!" If it doesn't wake me up at 3 in the morning. I'm not interested in doing it. 

I get inspired by . . . pretty much everything, what anybody's doing --food-wise, writing -- anything creative. 

Words to live by: it's never the right time for anything artificial.

I love it when ___ cooks for me: My husband. He cooks almost every night. He didn't cook when I met him, but he learned. And there are just certain things he makes for me when he knows I'm having a bad day.

Chocolate: dark, milk, or white? Dark chocolate is my chocolate of choice. I like that white lets me play with color, but there's something about opening a container of dark chocolate and the smell just hits me in the face. 

You'll find plenty of ___ in my pantry: spices Note: This post was edited from its original version.

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