Sweet news: Custom bakery Opening soon

Veteran Tucson pastry chef Lena Steinbrenner, whose beautiful, sweet creations have been featured at a number of Tucson restaurants and resorts, is opening her own shop.

Lena's Custom Desserts will occupy the former Mamma Llamas Empanadas shop at 2418 N. Craycroft Road. Steinbrenner is hoping to open in the next couple of weeks.

Mama Llamas' phone was disconnected and the owners could not be reached to comment.

Lena's will specialize in everything from black forest chocolate cake with a cherry fruit filling to white chocolate cake filled with apricot fruit and white chocolate créme and brushed with Grand Marnier. If the descriptions on her website (www.lenascustomdesserts.com) are any indication, Tucson is in store for a brush with decadence.

Most of the desserts will be prepared in miniature sizes, available by the dozen. You also can order full cakes and pies in advance as well as custom desserts prepared to order.

Steinbrenner has been baking since she was a kid and doing it professionally for 15 years. The Bisbee native, who has been in Tucson since her teens and graduated from Sunnyside High School, has clocked in time with Westin La Paloma Hotel & Resort, Dakota Cafe & Catering Company, Cafe A La Carte, Luna Bella Restaurant and Woodland Palms Assisted Living.

Lena's will offer gluten-free, sugar-free and vegan desserts as well.

Denver's chili factor coming to food truck

There are apparently a lot of people trying to duplicate, imitate or downright steal the chili recipe from Denver's storied The Original Chubby's Mexican Food.

It's made from green chiles, pork, Hatch Valley red chile powder and cheese - lots of cheese. Chubby's smothers it on fries and on its house special burger.

Native Coloradan Paul Kukich, a four-year Tucson transplant, went straight to to the family that has run Chubby's for more than 50 years when he decided to bring that taste to Tucson. And after connecting the dots of their shirttail relationship - he's a cousin along marital lines - he was able to persuade an influential family member to let him import the chili to Tucson.

Now Kukich, 42, is a health inspection away from dishing up the chili out of his BurgerRito food truck. Once he passes his final inspections, Kukich and his stepson, Art Durazo, will start serving a menu centered around the chili. The showpiece is the BurgerRito - a cheeseburger prepared like a burrito: a 12-inch flour tortilla smeared with smashed refried beans, a quarter-pound hamburger patty, Chubby's patented chili and more cheese to add a gooey cheesy goodness, Kukich explained. The creation is wrapped in a hot dog sleeve and served in a paper bag, making it, in its creator's eyes, the perfect grab- and-go meal.

"You hold the burrito in the paper bag and you roll the bag down as you go," he explained. "If there are any droppings, it's in the bag."

The menu includes two types of breakfast burritos, a BurgerRito and chili cheese fries. The burritos, which start at $4.50 and go as high as $7.50, can be served plain or smothered in chili.

Kukich, who came to Tucson to be closer to his young daughter, has spent almost a year working on BurgerRito. The former wholesale snack food distributor said he came up with the idea during a trip home to Denver to compete in the Tough Mudder obstacle course and run.

Kukich said he will rotate parking the truck at three locations: 5601 S. Palo Verde Road; 5000 E. Valencia Road; and 333 W. Drachman St.

food trucks on scene tonight, this weekend

Tucson food trucks will gather today from 5 to 8 p.m at the North Pointe Apartments, 850 E. Wetmore at First Avenue.

It's one of several roundups this weekend. Featured trucks include MaFooco, Street Delights, Mobile Bistro, Just Churros!, Pin Up Pastries, Hellfire Pizza Co., Jackie's Food Court and newcomers You Sly Dog.

On Saturday, find them at the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, 3450 N. Kelvin Blvd., from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

And on Sunday, they will be parked at Himmel Park, 2650 E. First St., near East Speedway and Tucson Boulevard, from noon to 5 p.m.

See www.tucsonfoodtruckroundup.com for more details.

German-style dinner to benefit veterans

The American Legion Oro Valley Post 132 is hosting an authentic German dinner from 4-6:30 p.m. Feb. 16 at the SaddleBrooke HOA1 Activity Center, 64518 E. Galveston Lane.

Proceeds will be used for assisting veterans and their families in need, along with rehabilitation and transition programs for returning service members, Operation Military Kids and citizenship education programs.

Included on the menu: German sausage, sauerkraut, red cabbage, German potato salad and apple strudel. There will also be oompah music and German beer (for an additional cost).

The cost is $12, and reservations must be made with Bob Franke at 909-2070.

Cathalena E. Burch Inger Sandal