Meagan Micozzi of Scarletta Bakes on the Evolution of Southwest Cuisine

Categories: Chef and Tell

Elaine Kessler
Meagan Micozzi of Scarlett Bakes
This week, we're chatting with Meagan Micozzi. You might be more familiar with her blogging pseudonym, Scarletta Bakes. The Scottsdale-based food blogger has been sharing her culinary adventures online for several years and just released her first cookbook, The New Southwest, which she describes as a primer on modern southwestern cuisine with an Americana twist. On Monday, we found out how she got started in the blogosphere, and today we're back to find out how she avoids burning out and what else she's got in the works.

See also: Meagan Micozzi's Perfect Food Day

Though her blog didn't exactly take off over night, it didn't take long for Micozzi to realize that though there were thousands of other food blogs, none (or next to none) we're talking about the evolution of Southwest cooking. And as she fell deeper and deeper in love with the cuisine and culture of her new desert home, she gained more and more followers who began to look at her as a self-taught expert on the topic.

Courtesy of Meagan Micozzi
7 Layer Nacho Waffles
In addition to the bright beautiful photography and approachable recipes, Micozzi's blog continues to draw readers, old and new, with its casual tone and the fact that she consciously strives to "keep things fun."

"The truth is that I just really love geeking out and talking about southwestern food," she says. "I'm really passionate about that subject matter -- but I also really believe in having fun."

And after hundreds of posts and one cookbook, Micozzi says she's nowhere near done. Blogging, particularly when you're talking about such a focused subject, can easily lead to burn out she says.

"But the good news is, I don't see that anywhere on my horizon."

In part that's because blogging was never about gaining fans or fame or even a book deal for Micozzi. It was, and always will be, about perpetuating the conversation about the food of the Southwest. It's a cuisine that she says is still evolving and deeply misunderstood by many.

As part of her mission to continue pushing the limits of southwestern food, Micozzi says one of her focuses is finding acceptable substitutes for hard-to-find ingredients. She knows that for her readers on the East Coast, finding ingredients isn't as easy as heading to Pro's Ranch Market (one of her favorite places for grocery shopping). So she invests a lot of time in finding and testing suitable replacements that won't sacrifice flavor, convenience, or authenticity.

And when it comes to spreading her knowledge about this stuff, she's not going to limit herself to any single medium.

"I would love to write another cookbook," Micozzi says. "But there are a lot of other ways to keep the dialogue going."

For example, you can find Micozzi doing cooking demonstrations and book-signing around Arizona and the Southwest. You can check out Scarletta Bakes and her Facebook page for updates on events and other appearances. Her book, The New Southwest, is available now at bookstores including Changing Hands in Tempe.

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