Brendan McCaskey: Caramelpalooza Candymakers


From now through Caramelpalooza -- March 2 at Smeeks candy shop -- Chow Bella will introduce you to the 17 chefs participating in the third annual caramel tasting. Today, meet Brendan McCaskey.

Brendan McCaskey tells Chow Bella he "lives downtown, and loves downtown!" A Scottsdale Culinary Institute graduate, he's currently on a kitchen "vacation" -- these days McCaskey's the full time manager at Smeeks. We're curious to see how he follows his debut at Caramelpalooza, last year's peanut butter & jelly.

When I'm not in the kitchen, you'll find me at the Roosevelt Growhouse. I've been a regular volunteer at the urban garden on Sixth and Garfield streets since September. It's a great place to spend my Sundays -- working in the garden with my friends and other community neighbors. We're starting a new community plot program, and starting next month, I will be planting my own garden bed. I see cucumbers and summer squash in my future!

My favorite essential kitchen tool is mason jars. I LOVE mason jars and use them all the time. Big, small, any size will do for cooking/baking, food presentation, and storage! I can't imagine my kitchen without them. They're literally scattered all around my kitchen.

My favorite non-essential kitchen tool is my KitchenAid. It lets me be "lazy" when I'm baking from scratch. Plus, I love the color. Mine is clementine.

The worst movie I've seen lately, and why: On New Year's weekend, I went and saw "The Darkest Hour" with some friends. The movie was about two sets of friends vacationing in Russia, fighting to survive an alien invasion. Oh yeah, the aliens are also invisible. If that plot summary isn't reason enough, the dialogue and acting were terrible.

My favorite social media site and why: I guess I'd have to say Facebook, since it's the one I really use. I did, however, just download Instagram the other day. I have a feeling that is going to develop into a new obsession.

Find Brady 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.

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Amy Silverman is a two-time winner of the Arizona Press Club’s Journalist of the Year award. Her work has appeared on the radio show This American Life and in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Lenny Letter, and Brain, Child. She’s the co-curator of the live reading series Bar Flies, and a commentator for KJZZ, the NPR affiliate in Phoenix. Silverman is the author of the book My Heart Can’t Even Believe It: A Story of Science, Love, and Down Syndrome (Woodbine House 2016). Follow her on Instagram (@amysilverman), Twitter (@amysilvermanaz), and at

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