Chef Sara Hauman of ‘Top Chef’ & her memorable trip to Tucson

Cooking alongside chef Maria Mazon, devouring local bites & soaking up the sun

Chef Maria Mazon of BOCA Tacos y Tequila duked it out on this season’s “Top Chef”, and even though she was eliminated after being one of the final five competitors, she made plenty of friendships along the way.

One of which was chef Sara Hauman of Portland, Oregon — where season 18 was filmed.

BOCA Tacos y Tequila

Photo by Paul Holze

Earlier this month, Hauman packed her bags and took a trip to Tucson to cook alongside Mazon for a special dining experience.

The event sold out so fast that many even didn’t know the dinner was happening. Those who were able to attend the dinner had the chance to taste the cuisine from a pair of Top Chefs that come from two different culinary backgrounds.

With that being said, Hauman picked up a few techniques and ingredients that she plans to keep in her bag of tricks while cooking in Portland.

“I definitely am excited to use as much chiltepin as I can,” said Hauman. “This was an ingredient Maria brought to ‘Top Chef’ and is a chili I don’t necessarily use or have access to a lot. While there is intense heat, there is also a delicious acidity it adds to foods as well as a fruitiness.”

BOCA Tacos y Tequila

Photo by Paul Holze

The chiltepin wasn’t the only thing scorching during her visit.

“The Tucson heat was a lot. Yes, it is a dry heat, but it is still 100 degrees,” said Hauman. “I think it was actually hotter in the BOCA kitchen than it was outside at times. I feel like I acclimated pretty quickly because when I returned to Portland I was shivering around 70 degrees.”

During her stint on season 18 of “Top Chef,” she had to compete against Mazon and didn’t get too many opportunities to pick her brain while in the kitchen. Although, after spending time with her at BOCA, she was able to recognize the fact that Mazon is someone she “looks up to.”

“My favorite part about working with Maria and her team was seeing her in her element,” said Hauman. “To watch how Maria interacts with her employees and runs her business was such a treat and a reminder that she really is such a boss.”

BOCA Tacos y Tequila

Photo by Paul Holze

“I was spending some quality time with my mom while visiting Tucson, but we did pay a visit to a few of Maria’s favorites,” said Hauman. “We went to Kingfisher for my mom’s birthday dinner celebration and indulged in all of the seafood. We were all delighted and overwhelmed by the hospitality. My mom and I also went to Lee Lee International Supermarket to get ingredients for my Instagram that week.”

She also made sure to get a giant bowl of menudo during her visit. The name of the local spot she visited slipped her mind, but it most certainly made her feel better after a “heavy night of tequila” to wrap up her time in the Old Pueblo.

BOCA Tacos y Tequila

Photo by Paul Holzemaria

Stay tuned for other collaborative dining experiences at BOCA Tacos that are in the works.

BOCA Tacos y Tequila is located at 533 N. Fourth Ave. For more information, visit

At a very young age, Matt was gifted with the artistic ability to masterfully roll a burrito to the highest of standards.