Self-Taught Chef Loves Supporting Library

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Leonie Dobbins

Leonie Dobbins, owner of The Red Elephant Bakery Café, has taken part in A Taste of Rim Country for the past two years.

She said she doesn’t consider it a competition, but a good way to help the library.

Dobbins, who has been in the Rim Country for about 11 years, is self-trained from books. In fact, she taught herself to bake when she was just 9, using a book published in 1929, “Anyone Can Bake,” a Royal Baking Book. She still has the book and showed it off. “It had all kinds of pictures to show exactly what things should look like at each step.”

“My mother didn’t bake or cook, so my sister and I decided to learn,” she said.

Baking yeast breads is her favorite exercise in the kitchen. “I love the feel of it. Yeast is alive.”

Her favorite thing to eat is fresh-baked bread with butter.

In spite of baking most of her life, Dobbins still can encounter a challenge.

“I found making croissants very challenging, but I mastered it now. Nothing in restaurants or grocery stores even comes close to them.”

The most difficult part of her job, running a commercial bakery and café, is the paperwork.

“I can stand on my feet all day and it doesn’t bother me. But I hate the paperwork.”

She said she thinks the secret to being a successful cook is the practice. “Don’t worry if something is not exactly the same. We modify every recipe.”

Although Dobbins did not have any formal training, she recommends that someone interested in a career in cooking go to a cooking school or take cooking classes.

With a bakery and café to run, Dobbins admits she does not do much cooking at home anymore, but her husband has stepped in and makes great stir-fry, which she really enjoys.

Dobbins has a cookbook in the works. Encouraged by the Payson Area Writers Group, which meets at the Red Elephant Bakery Café, she has promised to have the book done by the end of the year.

As for her ultimate career goals, the café is a relatively new venture for her and it continues to evolve.

“There is always room for expansion and new ideas,” she said.

Look for Dobbins to offer a Farmers Market Salad and possibly a corn muffin with smoked cheese at A Taste of Rim Country. She is also thinking about bringing two different kinds of brownies to the event, which will be at 5 p.m., Saturday, March 7 at the Payson Public Library. Her plan is to make one of the brownies a sugar-free recipe.

“Both my daughters are Type 1 diabetics and they always miss out,” she said.

Tickets for A Taste of Rim Country are $30 each and available at the library. For details call Bessie Tucker, coordinator at (928) 474-9260.

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