Beatriz Alatorre de Hong: 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 Beatriz Alatorre de Hong, or as she's known in the Mexican popsicle world, Paletas Betty.

You could describe a paleta as a Mexico-born ice pop, but it wouldn't quite do the fruit and creams pops at Paletas Betty justice. Born there herself in the state of Michoacan, Beatriz Alatorre de Hong wanted to share the sweet, frozen treats made from local fruits and spices she grew up on. Now Alatorre de Hong creates inspired flavors both new and traditional, like the mango con chile (fresh mangos and handmade chile powder), ceraza (brandied cherries and almonds), and the arroz con leche (a creamy rice pudding with mexican cinnamon).

She makes the pops by hand and from scratch out of fresh, seasonal fruits and the spices that she grinds herself, and so even from day-to-day the menus at her downtown Chandler and Mill Avenue locations are changing. Betty isn't a stranger to caramel -- one of her top sellers is the platano - bananas foster, caramel she makes herself, and anejo rum -- so we're excited to see what combination she'll freeze up for us at Caramelpalooza.

Q: Would you rather have a cabin in the woods or beach-front property?
A: A cabin in the woods. I love the green of the outdoors, and that reminds me a bit of Mexico. I'd be closer to nature and the aromas would remind me of spices I use in the kitchen.

Q: When it comes to movies, do you go for comedies or dramas?
A: Comedies. I love to laugh. I love when people are happy and smiling, and it reminds me of the smiles I see when customers first come in the door.

Q: Who was your favorite musician growing up?
A: That's a tough question. I like Cri-Cri, a musician my parents would play who was great for kids, at birthday parties or when I'd play with my cousins.

Q: Who do you see as being influential in your life?
A: My mom because that's who I am. I remember my mom and grandma in the kitchen, making three different meals a day. My mom would also make arroz con leche, the rice pudding, and my grandma used to make Mexican hot chocolate.

Q: Where would your dream vacation be?
A: It would be to somewhere I've never been, somewhere in Europe. I love to experience new people and their characteristics, and their different foods. I'd go to France or Italy; France for their desserts and Italy for their foods and pastas.

Find Paletas Betty 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. 

The candy makers so far:
Monica Castillo, Churn

Nutwhat's Lisa Rast

Urban Bean's Virginia Senior

Follow Chow Bella on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest