Rick DePhillipis, executive chef and manager of Cedar Ridge Restaurant at the Mazatzal Casino, has participated in A Taste of Rim Country many times.
He returns Feb. 23 with an appetizer from the Cedar Ridge menu, Devil Crab Stuffed Mushrooms.
A Taste of Rim Country benefit the Payson Library. The event starts at 5 p.m. and features food from Rim Country chefs. Tickets, $30 each, are available at the door. Half of the ticket price is tax-deductible.
Rick, What is 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 that people 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.
Is there a cookbook in your future?
I never really thought about it... very possibly.
What is your ultimate career goal?
To be successful and noted for what I do.
In addition to the savory treats DePhillipis will tempt library patrons with at A Taste of Rim Country 2008, other chefs and organizations in the community are providing an array of palate-pleasing dishes. General admission tickets are available for purchase at the library.
Funds raised will go toward the $1.4 million library expansion project, designed to fit the growing needs of Payson.