Urban Beans and Tertio's Virgina Senior: 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.

Things don't stay the same for long at Urban Beans. At least not since Virgina Senior decided to open up Tertio wine bar inside the coffee shop. By day, locals can (and do) stop in for a freshly baked scone but at night the wine begins to flow and the space turns into a low-key hangout for wine lovers of all types.

See also: - Chow Bella's Caramelpalooza archives - Announcing the Caramel Makers for Smeeks & Chow Bella's Caramelpalooza 2013! - Virginia Senior Makes Poached Eggs Over Swiss Chard

We found Senior sitting outside on the soon-to-be-expanded patio. She tells us the impending changes are actually just the first phase in a series of future renovations -- the next phase, she says with a smile, is still top-secret. Senior may have put down her trace paper and pencil in favor of a wine glass and chef's hat, but the career change hasn't stopped her from coming up with a steady stream of design projects to keep her artistic and architectural juices flowing.

A food trend I'm excited about is . . .local sourcing, the public is becoming more aware of how and where their food comes from, and more interested in how fresh it is. Sounds cliché, but it's a trend that i hope never goes away.

Cooking is like architecture because . . .there is an end result, the dish or the building, but the path to getting to the end is the exciting part. It involves all the senses -- it's visual, it's textural, it's has smells and sounds. Plus you get to eat it at the end.

I'd pair caramel with a bottle of . . .Meiomi, a Pinot Noir. In fact, for me, this year's Caramelpalooza is going to be all about wine-infused caramels, a blending of Urban Beans and Tertio Wine Bar.

The most memorable flavor from my childhood is . . .climbing the blood orange tree in our backyard and eating oranges until my mouth was sore.

My kitchen has to have a . . . zester, I love zesting all kinds of citrus in sauces and dishes. I love the oils from zested citrus skin.

The ingredient I've been most excited to work with was . . . actually it's the trend of combining savory, sweet, salty, and sour all in one dish. I made a vegan small plate which was a spinach leaf with a schmear of hummus, slices of roasted eggplant, scallions, vegan cheese ("Pleezsh") rolled up and served with a tamari dipping sauce, just a great mix of flavors all in one bite.

I can't live without my . . .imagination

My worst kitchen disaster . . .I am sure is still to come, but hopefully i will handle it with grace, or at least find the back door quick!

If I could have any celebrity over for dinner it'd be . . .Santiago Calatrava.

What would you put on a perfect pizza? Hmmm, probably the first one that comes out of Tertios' wood-fired oven I'm designing . . .

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Lauren Saria
Contact: Lauren Saria