Chef Dewitt Will Serve Up Secret Recipes At A Taste Of Rim Country

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Do you want to know what delectable dishes Kevin DeWitt, the chef at Zane Grey Steakhouse, will cook for A Taste of Rim Country?

DeWitt isn't saying, but he knows how to tantalize.

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Chef Kevin DeWitt and the Zane Grey Steakhouse in Kohl's Ranch Lodge will serve up something special at the 2008 A Taste of Rim Country.

"I am preparing two of my favorite things to make.

"One is the most requested appetizer when we have the Super Bowl party at my house and the dessert will knock your socks off," he said.

DeWitt has enjoyed cooking since childhood.

He has fond memories of baking cinnamon rolls with his grandmother as a young child.

He loves to eat pasta so spaghetti was the first dish he learned to prepare, calling his mother all the while to check on the next ingredient.

He continued cooking lessons through high school in Mesa. He graduated from the Art Institute of Phoenix's culinary program in 1999.

Chefs Leible and Sellner helped DeWitt refine his vocation.

Leible was the master chef at AIP.

Although DeWitt remembers Leible yelling at him for garnishing soup with fresh parsley, he learned a good tip:

Parsley turns brown and looks ugly if you add it too soon, DeWitt said.

After graduation, DeWitt worked at the Rim Golf Club as the sous chef, under Andreas Sellner.

"He had tons of knowledge about everything and a funny sense of humor," DeWitt said.

Use quality products, is the most valuable lesson DeWitt learned from Leible and Sellner.

"You can make good products taste even better, but you can't make something bad taste good," DeWitt said.

Even if the dish comes out perfectly from the oven, once in a while, the best of chefs experience disaster. DeWitt's worst accident was dropping a chocolate soufflé right before a plated dinner.

The hardest part of his job is anticipating the number of patrons the restaurant will serve on a given day and preparing food accordingly.

The reward is happy guests who keep coming back.

On his days off, DeWitt keeps busy in his own kitchen, cooking special meals for his family.

Because he cooks out of his head more than from cookbooks, he does not think there is a cookbook in his future.

His ultimate career goal is to give personal, interactive cooking classes in people's homes.

"I enjoy teaching cooking probably more than I enjoy standing in a kitchen cooking," he said.

DeWitt 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.

The goodies will be served between the bookshelves at the Payson Public Library.

The event benefits the library expansion project.

The Zane Grey Steakhouse is located at Kohl's Ranch, 17 miles east of Payson on Highway 260 (right after milepost 268).

A Taste of Rim Country begins 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.

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