A Taste Of Rim Country

Culinary students share talents at upcoming event



Andy Towle/Roundup

Culinary arts instructor Devon Wells goes over instructions with Marlow Galloway, while Galloway’s kitchen partner Emily Vandruff continues prep work for their dish.


Andy Towle/Roundup

The Payson High School culinary arts class provides an opportunity for students like Nicole DePugh and Josh Graham to become familiar with both cooking in the home and on a commercial basis. The program classroom is licensed as a restaurant and the students do catering projects around the community.


Andy Towle/Roundup

The class will be represented at the March 7 A Taste of Rim Country by junior, Marissa Herrera and senior Chelsea Iverson.


Andy Towle/Roundup

Emily Vandruff chops parsley while Marlow Galloway works in the background. The two are helping prepare a regular meal the culinary arts class makes for the faculty and staff of Payson High School.


Andy Towle/Roundup

Chelsea Iverson grew up around the Beeline Cafe, which is owned by her parents, but said she didn’t have any cooking secrets to share with her classmates.

For the second year, students in the culinary arts program at Payson High School will share their talents and skills at A Taste of Rim Country.

The benefit for the Payson Public Library, presented by the Library Friends of Payson, is March 7 at the library and will feature 10 different “chefs.” Doors open at 5 p.m.

Representing the school program will be Chelsea Iverson, a senior, and Marissa Herrera, a junior. This is the first year for the girls to participate in a major way, though both have been in the program their entire high school careers.

“They were in different level classes, so they helped in some of the preparation last year,” said instructor Devon Wells.

Since an estimated 300 people will be attending the event, Iverson and Herrera will have the assistance of their fellow culinary students in preparing the dishes they decide on presenting. That decision has not been made yet, but there may be something featuring almonds. “We have been working with almonds a lot lately,” said Herrera.

The final decision on the dishes will be made after a fellow classmate’s father brings back purchases from a special food store.

Iverson’s family owns the Beeline Cafe, so she grew up in the business. She does wait staff work for the cafe, so she didn’t have any secrets to share about cooking from the business. However, both have learned several secrets working in the culinary class.

“You need to work fast,” Herrera said.

“There is a lot more to cooking than you realize,” added Iverson. “You need to like cooking to be in the class,” she said.

Neither young woman plans a culinary career. Herrera said she likes to cook, so that is why she is in the program. She said she hopes to have a career in health care.

Iverson plans to pursue a career in interior design.

The culinary arts program at Payson High School is based in one of the end units of Building C, located to the west of Wilson Dome and south of the auditorium. It is a licensed restaurant with the students learning the tricks of the cooking trade in four kitchen units.

Among the trade tricks: safe food handling and sanitation; culinary basics, which covers such topics as proper knife care, how to classify fruits and vegetables; preparing hot foods and cold foods; fixing breakfast dishes; cheeses and hors d’oeuvres; salads and dressings; management techniques; marketing; menu planning; and ethics in the workplace.

A Taste of Rim Country

A Taste of Rim Country was started in 1999, but has not been held each year since then. This is the second year the program has been presented at the library. There will be wine to complement the dishes prepared by the following participants: Judy Buettner, representing Northern Gila County Historical Society; Keven DeWitt of the Zane Grey Steakhouse at Kohl’s Ranch Lodge; Leonie Dobbins of the Red Elephant Bakery Cafe; Maggie Evans of Verde River Rock House; Steven LeMonier, Majestic Rim/Good Samaritan Senior Apartments; Mandarin House; Payson High School Culinary Club; R.C.’s Catering, Inc./Majestic Mountain Inn; Kenny Tassell of Chili’s Grill & Bar; and Milka Vergara of Rim Country Health & Retirement Community.

Tickets for the event are limited and cost $30, with half of that being tax deductible. Tickets may be purchased at the library, 328 N. McLane Road, Payson, (928) 474-9260. The library is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday.


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