Tonto Bar and Grill's Amanda Crick: Caramelpalooza Candymakers

From now through Caramelpalooza -- March 2 at Smeeks candy shop -- Chow Bella will introduce you to the 18 chefs participating in the third annual caramel tasting. Today, meet Amanda Crick , Pastry Chef at the Tonto Bar and Grill.

Amanda Crick is a self-taught pastry chef who worked her way through past generations of Cave Creek restaurants ever since she wasn't old enough to work, until she started plating desserts at the Tonto Bar and Grill. Crick fell in love with it, climbed her way up the ladder making breads and contributions to the desert menu, and remains there today as their pastry chef - heading an operation that also serves Cartwright's Sonoran Ranch House up the street. Her favorite desserts on the seasonal menu that uses native ingredients are the buttermilk chocolate cake and the lemon pie. Oh, and occasionally her job means playing with caramels - like the ones that use piloncillo caramel, foraged prickly pear, and salted piñon nuts.

Q: Who is your favorite Food Network star?
A: Rachael Ray. I love her because she does things like great Italian Cuisine with ingredients you can already find in your pantry.

Q: What are your favorite pastries?
A: I have a thing for wedding cakes. I like how artistic and creative you can get with them.

Q: What would you do with $1 million dollars?
A: Open up my own bakery, maybe. Like a New York-style deli with sandwiches, but also offers fresh-baked goods.

Q: If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?
A: Paris or Italy. I'd lean towards Italy, because I've got that Italian in me.

Q: What would you put on the perfect burger?
A: Everything. Lettuce, tomato, bacon, pepper jack cheese, and of course my own potato buns.

Find Amanda and 17 other chefs at Caramelpalooza, Friday, March 2, from 7 til the caramel runs out, Smeeks candy store, northwest corner of Central and Camelback.

Follow Chow Bella on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest.