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. It's scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 17, at the Tonto Apache Community Center.
Tickets are $30 per person. VIP invitations to those who attended last year are already out. General admission goes on sale in early January. Fifty percent of the ticket cost is tax-deductible.
Funds raised will go toward the $1.4 million library expansion project that is 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.
Steve Morken and Tamara Logsdon, Rimside Grill
Steve Morken and Tamara Logsdon said "enough" to their aerospace careers at Honeywell in Phoenix, and "hello" to a new life in Pine. Although Morken inherited cooking skills from his mother and grandmother, he pursued an 18-year stint in the corporate world instead.
"I don't know that (cooking) hit me until I was older," said Morken. "I did a lot of cooking for family and friends for a few years. I played there a few years, experimenting with Italian dishes. It's a good place to start."
Logsdon and Morken moved to the Rim Country in 2004 to start over.
"We looked at a couple of restaurants, but they didn't serve our needs," Logsdon said. "We wanted something for outdoor stuff -- a place big enough for events."
Questions for Morken and Logsdon
What's your favorite dish to cook? Why?
Steve: Salmon with dill sauce. Fish is great because there are so many quick, easy options.
Tamara: Linguine with clam sauce. It's simple and delicious.
What do you love to eat?
Steve: Italian food.
Tamara: Seafood and sushi.
Do you enjoy cooking for pleasure?
Steve and Tamara: Yes, we have lots of great cooks in our families and we have always loved to cook together.
What got you into this business?
Steve and Tamara: Our love of cooking. (We) were ready to get out of Phoenix and always loved Pine. This restaurant had what we wanted and room for large events and parties.
What is your worst chef disaster?
Steve: Cooked a butter sauce two hours for a special Oktoberfest meal, and then dropped the pan and had to start over.
Tamara: When I first started cooking, I put a glass pan on a hot stove. It exploded.
What's the hardest part of your job?
Steve and Tamara: Making sure everything is timed right (cooked, temperature, and so on) and multitasking among customers, employees and cooking.
What do you love most about your job?
Steve and Tamara: The interaction with customers and the compliments on our food, events and service.
Tell us one thing about being a cook that people don't know?
Steve and Tamara: There's a lot more than cooking involved in being a chef.
Is there a trade secret that every person who cooks should know?
Steve: Be creative.
What is your first memory of food?
Steve: Granny's gingersnaps and Mom's homemade breads.
Tamara: Pancakes with thick, "syrup butter." Dad always made it for me.
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to become a cook?
Steve and Tamara: Work in a restaurant first. Learn all areas from dishwasher, busser, server, line cook and finance. Then decide.
What challenges or benefits do you face working in a small town like Pine?
Steve: Specialty item selection and quality groceries are limited. Benefits: Getting to know customers personally and seeing people we know wherever we go.
What is in your refrigerator at home?
Steve: Not a lot. We mainly eat at the restaurant -- water, tea, condiments and leftovers.
Editor's note: Watch the Friday edition of the Payson Roundup leading up to A Taste of Rim Country for more area chef profiles.