Chef's Extravaganza Benefits Library Friends

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The Rim Country's top chefs and cooks are sharing their talents in a Chef's Extravaganza to raise money for the Library Friends of Payson.

A wine tasting will accompany the appetizers and desserts provided by the participants.

Join this celebration of food from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at the Tonto Apache Activity Center.

Tickets are $30 and available at the Payson Public Library, 328 N. McLane Road, (928) 474-9260 or at the Payson Roundup, 708 N. Beeline Highway, (928) 474-5251.

Tickets may also be purchased at the door.

All proceeds benefit library projects.

Joani Alexander, Oxbow

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Joani Alexander

The Oxbow introduces Joani Alexander -- a cook who will transform the historic watering hole into a steak house with flair.

Until that happens, she's starting small. Alexander prepares daily lunch specials, homemade soups and sandwiches for tavern goers and an increasing number of business folks and organizations.

Alexander said the Oxbow hopes to open the steak house by August Doin's.

Alexander Q&A

What's your favorite dish to cook? Why? Black Forest Crepes because it is simple to make and elegant in appearance.

What do you love to eat? Seafood. It can be prepared any way.

Do you enjoy cooking for pleasure? Yes. I love to cook for my family and friends.

What got you into this business? I was offered good money for something I love to do.

What is your worst chef disaster? I have been very lucky and have not had a bad experience so far. I hope to never have one.

What's the hardest part of your job? It is hard for me to teach others how things should be done to meet health codes.

What do you love most about your job? Being able to experiment with new dishes and seeing how people react to them.

Tell us one thing about being a chef that people don't know? Most people don't realize that presentation is half of the taste. It is a necessity.

Is there a trade secret that every person who cooks should know? You should love every aspect of cooking, from the planning to the presentation.

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to become a chef? You have to love to cook and want to please people.

What challenges or benefits do you face working in a small town like Payson? The benefit is you have a nice following of people. The challenge is finding a place to let you experiment and I think I have found my home here at the Oxbow.

What is in your refrigerator at home? I have twin, 16-year-old boys. There is never enough of anything no matter how much I shop or what I put into it.

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