Meagan Micozzi of Scarletta Bakes on Her First Cookbook, The New Southwest

Categories: Chef and Tell

Elaine Kessler
Meagan Micozzi of Scarlett Bakes
Meagan Micozzi
Food blogger,
Author, The New Southwest

When Meagan Micozzi started writing her blog, Scarletta Bakes, two and a half years ago, she had no idea that a few short months later she'd be a recognizable face at a national conference of food bloggers. When she set out on the adventure that would change her life she had no intention of establishing herself as an expert on modern southwestern cuisine. And she definitely had no idea she'd ever author her own cookbook.

Read part two of this interview here.

See also: Meagan Micozzi of Scarletta Bakes on the Evolution of Southwest Cuisine

Yet here she is today at a coffee shop near her home in North Scottsdale with a brand new copy of The New Southwest in hand.

"This is, like, a total accident," Micozzi says. "Like, this shouldn't have happened to me."

Courtesy of Meagan Micozzi
Mexican Hot Chocolate (Champurrado)
But it did, and whether due to fate, luck, talent or a combination of all three, Micozzi's cookbook hit shelves about a month ago. Like her blog, it includes original recipes that she describes as "Southwestern cuisine with an Americana twist." Dishes like her picadillo meatloaf with habanero ketchup take traditional southwestern foods and turn them into "what you'd find on the dinner table every night in suburban America," she says.

The fact that she's penned hundred of recipes might lead you to believe Micozzi has always been obsessed with food. But, on the contrary, she says, she was always a "proficient eater" but didn't discover her passion for cooking until relatively recently.

The New Jersey-born Micozzi attended University of Virginia, where she graduated with a degree in urban environmental planning. After bouncing around the East Coast for several years due to her husband's job, she finally landed in Phoenix in 2009. It's difficult to jump into urban environmental planning when you're in an urban environment you know nothing about, Micozzi says, which is why she took a part-time job at the library to give herself time to figure out what to do next.

And that's when she started playing in the kitchen. She immersed herself in efforts to re-create traditional southwestern foods, researching each ingredient and recipe to try to find its original source. The idea to start a blog was a secondary one, she says, more of a way for her to keep in touch with her friends and family back home than anything else.

"To be honest with you, before I started my blog . . . I always thought blogging was sort of narcissistic," Micozzi says. "Like who would want to read what I'm writing? It was a very personal thing."

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