Chef Extravaganza Gives Sample Of The Sublime



The annual Chef Extravaganza benefiting the Payson Public Library, sponsored by the Payson Roundup newspaper and the Library Friends of Payson will help the library's expansion project.

Payson's Public Library has grown from its humble beginnings in half of the Womans Club building on Main Street to the building at Rumsey Park.


Participating in A Taste of Rim Country are (back row, from left) Dale Tollefson, Linda Weber, culinary consultant Gary Bedsworth, Kevin DeWitt, (front row) Leoni Dobbins, Jan Marnell and Diane Frederick Bedsworth.

The beautiful building presently houses two banks of computers, a children's room with charmingly painted walls, a young adult area, multimedia center, Friends of the Library bookstore and a wealth of books and it is bursting at the seams.

"Judging what books to take off the shelves and out of circulation is a book-lover's nightmare," Morris said.

The horrible task has been part of her job for 22 years.

An individual book's shelf life is based on the number of times it has been checked it out by library patrons.

There is room at the top of some of the shelves for more books, but that makes them difficult to reach, especially for the elderly.

Morris is sad when she thinks of the "oldies but goodies" she has had to remove from the shelves.

"No, I don't remember any recent titles," she said. "Because I have to just let them go."

Books taken off the library's shelves are resold by the Library Friends. That money comes back into the library.

There are approximately 4,000 titles on the shelves between Morris' office and the young adult room.

The $1.4 million library expansion is in the town of Payson's corporate strategic plan for 2008, contingent on council approval.

The plan calls for a 5,500-square-foot-wing stocked with wireless Internet access and 20 computer terminals.

There will be plenty of extra space for books, Morris said. She estimates the collection could grow by 8,000 titles.

The Library Friends have raised in the neighborhood of $150,000 so far for interior furnishings for the expansion.

Rim Country chefs, including a couple of last minute changes, are representing their restaurants at the event, which will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17 in the Tonto Apache Gym.

The 2007 chef participants are:

  • Olive Matus from Creekside Steakhouse in Christopher Creek
  • Gerardo Moceri from Cucina Paradiso in Payson,
  • Linda Weber from Fireside Espresso in Payson
  • Diane Frederick Bedsworth from Payson Regional Medical Center
  • Rick DePhilippis from Cedar Ridge Restaurant at the Mazatzal Casino
  • Leoni Dobbins from the Red Elephant Café and Bakery in Payson
  • Jan Marnell from Strawberry Lodge in Strawberry
  • Kevin DeWitt from the Zane Grey Dining Room at Kohl's Ranch
  • Randy Ortega from The Rim Club Restaurant in Chaparral Pines (Ortega took his position as chef only a week prior to the event)
  • Dale Tollefson from the Rimside Grill in Pine (Tollefson took over as chef a month ago.)

What to expect:

Patrons will exchange their ticket for a plate and a glass for either wine or juice.

The wine glass is held nicely in the plate, so you are not attempting a balancing act of holding a plate, glass and reaching for a sample at the same time.

There will be appetizers, dessert, and tastes of specialty dishes.

It is meant to be a taste, not a full meal.

The chefs are keeping secret exactly what delectable samples they will serve.

But, whether they are sharing one of their favorite dishes to cook, such as Weber's jambalaya pasta or Dobbins' fresh-baked breads to the most complex dishes they have prepared, as will be the case with DePhilippis' Apache Acorn Stew and Marnell's puff pastry -- a Taste of Rim Country is sure to bring savory and sweet joy to everyone's taste buds.

"Besides, the surprise is great fun," Morris said.

Tickets are $30 each, 50 percent is tax-deductible, with those proceeds going to the Library Friends' building fund. Last year's event garnered $5,637.

There will also be auctions and raffles during the event.

Tickets may be purchased at the library or the Payson Roundup, and at the door of the event.

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