Bourbon Steak's Veronica Arroyo: 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 Veronica Arroyo of Bourbon Steak.

Veronica Arroyo is the executive pastry chef at Scottdale's ritzy Bourbon Steak and has been baking professionally for over a decade. She just recently returned from Gourmet Abu Dhabi, an event where she helped represent American cuisine on the world stage.

What do you think of the food truck phenomenon? V: I think it's fantastic. However, I think it's a passing phase.

Why is that? V: It's simple. People get very excited for things that are in the moment: cupcakes, lollipops, cake pops, food trucks.

What was your worst kitchen disaster? V: There was a night during my first year as a cook, working at the Marriot Camelback Inn, and I was responsible for making souffle base for the rest of the restaurant ... One night I made the souffle base a little bit too soft and ... they didn't hold up properly. [The head chef] told me, "The souffle base was horrible." I said okay and then he said, "You ruined the dining experience." And those words rang through my head, and they still do to this day. So souffles are one of those things I perfect, I get it perfect every time because I never want to ruin anyone's dining experience.

What was your first cooking experience? V: My first cooking experience was definitely with my grandmother. Always baking. Red velvet cake was the very first recipe I ever learned. Along with biscochos which are a Mexcian anise star cookie.

What is your least favorite ingredient? V: It would have to be anything artificial. Food coloring, any artificial tastes ... Food should taste real and it should taste natural and it should look natural.

What is the most important thing you own? V: Definitely a picture of my family. My family's fantastic.They support me and have supported ever decision I've made in my life no matter how ludicrous.

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

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