Take notice — the challenge has been made. Chef Steven LeMonier of Majestic Rim Good Samaritan Senior Apartments has no intention of letting the trophy from the chef competition, A Taste of Rim Country, leave his building.
LeMonier’s predecessor Karl Schaller won the contest last year, so a repeat presentation is planned for the March 7 event benefiting the Payson Public Library.
Steven LeMonier is the executive chef at Majestic Rim; his employer is Morrison Management, the company contracted with by the Good Samaritan Society, owner of the facility.
He has been cooking in the Rim Country for about 20 years. Longtime residents may know him from the Rye Bar & Grill when it was owned by Don Garvin or from The Small Café. He even participated in the very first Taste of Rim Country.
LeMonier’s culinary training was in Chicago at the Washburne Trade School. While in Chicago he participated in national restaurant shows with the Drake Hotel team.
We asked LeMonier a few questions about cooking and food.
What is your favorite dish to cook? Anything Italian or a dish of sweetbreads with a wasabi cream sauce.
What do you love to eat? Italian or Japanese.
What inspired your love of food and cooking? My mother and grandmothers, they were all good cooks.
When did you start cooking? My four brothers and I all learned to cook as boys; I think I was about 10 when I started. I watched the Galloping Gourmet.
What is your worst chef disaster? It was probably in that first Taste of Rim contest. The power kept going out and I had two sauces break. We were supposed to use ingredients of the Rim Country, so I did dishes with trout: a trout sausage and little trout-shaped pastries that were painted.
What’s the hardest part of your job? Probably cooking the right amount of food so we don’t run out and also don’t have any waste.
Tell us one thing about cooking that people don’t know? You need to weigh your water (and your dry ingredients). A pint is not necessarily a pound due to elevation. Buy a digital scale.
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to cook for a living? Get into baking if you have any artistic aspirations — and the hours are a lot better.
What is your family’s favorite dish? I recently made seafood-stuffed ravioli with asparagus and porcini mushroom sauce for my stepdaughter that everyone enjoyed.
Is there a cookbook in your future? Probably not, there are too many cookbooks out there. If I wrote one it would be something like “Kitchen Confidential” about the inner workings of a restaurant kitchen.
What is your ultimate career goal? I think I’d like to have a traveling kitchen (but not catering).
Tickets for the A Taste of Rim Country benefit are $30. The event is at 5 p.m., Saturday, March 7 at the Payson Public Library. For more information, contact Bessie Tucker, coordinator, at (928) 474-9260.