Saguaro Land: How a pastry chef uses Sonoran ingredients in her desserts

By Lauren Gilger
Published: Thursday, September 21, 2023 - 11:19am
Updated: Thursday, September 21, 2023 - 12:42pm

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Saguaro Land is a series from The Show looking at the Sonoran Desert — the lushest, hottest desert in the world that happens to be our home.

tracy dempsey
Tracy Dempsey
Tracy Dempsey

How is dessert done in the desert — specifically, the Sonoran Desert? The woman who made Chris Bianco's wedding cake, chef Tracy Dempsey, knows all about that.

Dempsey didn’t grow up in the desert — she spent her childhood all over the place — but she and husband Chuck, a meteorologist, have lived here for decades. She graduated from culinary school here in 1999, and she’s left her mark on the dessert menus of some of the best Valley restaurants.

She got her start as pastry chef at the original Mountain Shadows and Lon’s at the Hermosa Inn, two places deeply grounded — literally and figuratively — in the Sonoran Desert. She went on to work with Bernie Kantak at Cowboy Ciao, and now she freelances — and has made desserts for high-end locals from Citizen Public House to FnB.

The Show spoke with her about her culinary craft in the desert.

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