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Mary Steiger

Mary Steiger, a graduate of the Scottsdale Culinary Institute, is co-owner of Gourmet Girls Gluten Free Bakery/Bistro. The restaurant serves up delicious gluten-free offerings for their guests who can indulge themselves with no fear of cross-contamination while enjoying foods they never imagined they would be eating again. In addition to the breakfast, lunch and weekend dinner fare, the bakery offers an outstanding selection of gluten-free goods, including French bread and baklava.

Plans to expand the current location and operating hours are underway.

What was the first dish you had that changed your perspective on food?

Food always played a major part in my life, but it wasn't until age 24 that my perspective was completely changed. I was attending a home show and watched a chef demo which was actually ice carving and I suddenly realized that food was art! My entire approach to cooking was changed forever.

What are you eating these days?

I enjoy creating and eating dishes that feature fresh ingredients with flavor combinations that intrigue and surprise the palate. I love all the locally grown produce available this time of year, especially at the Heirloom Farmers Markets. Deep fried stuffed squash blossoms, yum! Gluten free pasta tossed with fresh cheese and drizzled with Wild Fernleaf Dill Olive Oil from Alfonso.

What was the first dish you remember cooking?

My first cooking experience was preparing eggs and toast for my mother who was having a sick day. I was 5-years--old and so began my lifelong passion to nurture anyone and everyone with food!

What concept, ingredient or food trend does everyone seem to love, but you just can't stomach?

I am not a fan of mussels in any form. I love the sauces and broths they are served in, but hold the mollusks, please!

What chef, with us or passed on, would you most like to cook or eat dinner with?

Julia Child. She changed the way Americans viewed and prepared food, demystifying previously frightening culinary techniques. We learned how to make sauces!

What city, other than Tucson, is your favorite place to eat?

Believe it or not, you can get the best Reuben sandwich and a hunk of carrot cake in Akron, Ohio.

Speaking in junk food terms, what is your favorite guilty pleasure?

Tootsie Pops and deep-fried bacon-wrapped, cheese-stuffed jalapeno peppers, not necessarily eaten together.

Top three Tucson restaurants?

Claire's Café in Catalina (28 years in business, must be doing it right with love!), Agustin Kitchen (oh, those signature jars!) and Prep & Pastry (new takes on old favorites).

With a figurative electric chair in your immediate future, what is your last meal?

And how much time do I have to eat this meal? I'll start with toasted baguettes with roasted garlic, brie, mango chutney, then move on to a fresh salad loaded with veggies and some toasted pumpkin seeds. Next up, French onion soup, followed by champagne sorbet to cleanse the palate. For my entrée, I request herb-encrusted lamb chops, with a demi-glace drizzled with a fig balsamic reduction, grilled asparagus and some horseradish mashed potatoes. For dessert, I'll need a sampler including pumpkin pie loaded with freshly whipped cream, some flourless dark chocolate cake with raspberries and crème anglaise, and something with peanut butter. Truly over the top, but what a way to go!

More by C.J. Hamm

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