Chef Finds Inspiration For Cooking From Italian Heritage

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The Rim Country's top culinary notables will share their talents for a benefit to raise money for the Payson Public Library expansion project.

The Library Friends of Payson and the Payson Roundup, will co-host this savory event, A Taste of Rim Country, scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 17, at the Tonto Apache Community Center.

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Rick DePhilippis, executive chef/kitchen manager for Cedar Ridge Restaurant at the Mazatzal Casino, will be a featured chef at the 2007 Taste of Rim Country.

General admission tickets will be available Jan. 2. Fifty percent of the ticket cost is tax-deductible. Funds raised will go toward the $1.4 million library expansion project, designed to fit the growing needs of Payson. The plan calls for a 5,500-square-foot wing stocked with wireless Internet access, 20 computer terminals and extra space.

The Payson Roundup will continue to feature chefs from the competition on Fridays, from now until the event.

Rick DePhilippis, Executive Chef/Kitchen Manager

What's your favorite dish to cook?

All Italian/Sicilian foods, which is my heritage. I grew up in the family business.

What do you love to eat?

Italian foods, salads, Mexican foods.

What is the most complicated dish you've ever made?

Apache acorn stew. I had to get it perfect to gain the approval of the tribe.

What inspired your love of food and cooking? When did you start cooking?

My mom and dad. I started cooking professionally at 14 and I've been cooking for 36 years now.

What is your worst chef disaster?

Snow days. No one can make it to work.

What's the hardest part of your job?

Working all the hours with no days off most of the time or no vacations.

Tell us one thing about cooking thatpeople don't know?

It's a very hard business. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication. People don't realize how hard it really is.

Is there a trade secret every person who cooks should know?

In this business, either you have it or you don't. Most people don't. It takes a lot of you.

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to cook for a living?

Start from the bottom. Learn the business from the ground up. They don't teach you that in culinary school.

It's very important.

What is your family's favorite dish?

Arrencinis (Italian for little oranges). They have a meat center surrounded by buttered rice and deep-fried with seasoned bread crumbs.

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