Tucson Lifestyle — February 2016
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Tucson Lifestyle Presents Tucson Originals' Chef Of The Month

Kelzi Bartholomaei, of Mother Hubbard’s Café

Chef Kelzi Bartholomaei’s unique journey to Tucson reflects her outgoing personality and love of adventure. During a West Coast job-hunting trip, a friend encouraged her to try her luck in Arizona.

Bartholomaei moved to Phoenix but began making regular trips to Tucson to work with famed glass artist Tom Philabaum, and began finding regular work in the Old Pueblo as a cook. Bartholomaei recalls that her first paid cooking job was as a camp cook for an outfitter on a fishing trip in Canada. Although it was never her ultimate career ambition to become a chef, the combination of her love of travel and the joy of cooking naturally lead her on a culinary journey. In her early days in the kitchen, Bartholomaei sometimes worked as a cook or waitress to fund her many travels and she occasionally feels nostalgic for those traveling years. She describes her culinary training as “a school of lifelong learning” and enjoys exploring new possibilities with her craft, especially the concept of crafting seasonal dishes with locally grown produce.

Currently, she sources local foods from the Rillito Farmer’s Market; Santa Cruz farmers market, and local growers and producers she has come to know over the years.

A former speed skater, Bartholomaei enjoys roller skating when she’s not in the kitchen. In libations, she prefers an expertly prepared margarita, bourbon (straight up or on ice with seltzer, tall) or a Vesper. Her guilty food pleasures include “potato chips, preferably with Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia frozen yogurt, and chocolate.”

Chef Bartholomaei values community partnership and lending a helping hand. She is a proud member of Tucson Originals Restaurants, which supports several charitable organizations in the community, and volunteers her culinary skills for the Tucson Girls Chorus summer music camp.

Baja Arizona Biscuits and Gravy

From Chef Bartholomaei

8 oz. unsalted butter
8 oz. all purpose flour
1 pound flavorful bulk sausage
2 cups water
2 1/2 cups Half & Half
1/4 tsp. chiltepins
1/2 large onion, diced finely
1/2 cup chives, finely minced
1 tsp. salt, to taste

Melt butter over medium heat in skillet. Add flour when solids begin to foam. Reduce heat slightly and whisk until the mixture begins to brown slightly. Remove from heat and set aside.

Break sausage into bite-sized bits and brown in four-quart saucepan. When the sausage is fully browned, add water and cream; heat to near scalding — do not boil. Reduce heat to hold temperature. Add onion, chives, chiltipins and spices — mix until well blended. Add one half of the roux (butter and flour mixture) in small increments, whisking it into the hot milk until all the roux has been mixed into the cream causing the gravy to thicken. Once desired consistency has been reached, reduce heat and allow the gravy to rest about 15 minutes (160 degrees). Remove from heat and cool.

Serve over biscuits or toast.
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