A Taste Of Rim Country Features Vegetable Cheesecake A La Red Elephant Bakery

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Walk through the door of the Red Elephant Bakery and the scent of freshly baked tomato-onion-oregano bread, or possibly lavender cookies baking will greet you.

Whatever delicious aromas waft from the kitchen, it is Leonie Dobbins, a woman who has fought city hall to keep the tradition of the small bakery alive, who will look up from her mixing bowl to greet you with a soft smile.

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Leonie Dobbins

Dobbins, baker and owner of the Red Elephant grew up in the South African city of Durbin, where she and her sister baked cakes at home for dessert and the tea trolleys came around to businesses at 11 a.m.

Dobbins, is one of the Rim Country's culinary notables and organizations will share their talents by creating appetizers and desserts to serve at 2008's A Taste of Rim Country.

This is Dobbins' third year participating in the event. She will showcase a chocolate almond dessert and a vegetable cheesecake.

Ticket holders can wander through the bookshelves at the Payson Library and fill their plates with a buffet of goodies Feb. 23.

The event benefits the library's expansion project.

The Red Elephant Bakery, 1101 S. Beeline, Payson, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

Leonie, what is your favorite dish to cook?

"Bread baking is what I like to do most. I love the feel of kneading dough."

What do you love to eat?

"Cheese and fresh-baked bread."

What is the most complicated dish you have ever made?

"An Indonesian dish, "Rijstatfel," which means rice table. There are a lot of separate dishes to prepare."

What / who inspired your love of cooking and when did you begin?

"I started cooking when I was about 10. If my sister and I didn't bake, we'd never get cake and dessert, unless my grandmother came to visit us annually."

Do you have formal training?

"No. I've learned from books and people."

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned?

"Make sure you have all the ingredients before you start a recipe so you don't have to suddenly go to the grocery store, midstream."

What was your worst cooking disaster?

"I have dropped a tray of glasses of iced tea."

What is the hardest part of your job?

Finding the time for the paperwork and getting enough help.

What do you love most about what your do?

Baking and cooking for people to enjoy and meeting and talking to the customers.

Do you have advice for someone who wants to starts cooking?

"Go for it and be passionate."

Is there a trade secret everyone who cooks should know?

"Yes. Don't give out trade secrets."

What is in your refrigerator at home?

Milk, OJ, yogurt, wine, vegetables, cheese and chutney.

What is your ultimate career goal?

"I want to have a very good bake-from-scratch bakery, because those kind of bakeries are dying out and I want to revive the tradition here in Payson."

Is there a cookbook in your future?

"Yes. It's on my to-do list."

A Taste of Rim Country is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 23 between the bookshelves at the Payson Public Library.

General admission tickets are available now for purchase at the library.

Fifty percent of the $30 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.

Taste time

A Taste of Rim Country is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 23 between the bookshelves at the Payson Public Library.

General admission tickets are available now for purchase at the library.

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