Food, Wine, Books = Bliss

Taste of Rim Country food sampling party has helped library for a decade

Chef Chris Taylor of the Zane Grey Restaurant at Kohl’s Ranch will be participating in A Taste of Rim Country.

Photo by Andy Towle. |

Chef Chris Taylor of the Zane Grey Restaurant at Kohl’s Ranch will be participating in A Taste of Rim Country.


Library patrons and food lovers rejoice — It’s time for 2013’s Taste of Rim Country food sampling gala to raise money for the Payson Public Library.

Participating longtime favorites and interesting newcomers include: Cake Love by Monica, Creekside Steakhouse, Gerardo’s Firewood Café, The Journigan House, Mazatzal Bakers (casino), Miss Fitz 260 Café, Payson High School Culinary Club, Randall House and Zane Grey Restaurant.

Barbara O’Conner and The Randall House have participated for many years, but keep coming back to have some fun and support the library, she said.

They come away with new customers too.

This year the Library Friends of Payson decided to let the participants showcase the restaurants as they wished, without imposing a theme. Diners will pay $30 each, with the money going to the Payson Public Library.


The Randall House in Pine plans to offer one of its signature salads at the annual fund-raiser.

O’Conner said patrons will get a sample of the atmosphere at The Randall House, with a sampling of the décor, a salad and a dessert.

First-time participant Kevin Mystrom of The Historic Journigan House said his station would probably feature a theme representing historic Payson. Several of his chefs have participated in the past, and this year they’ll offer items from the lunch and dinner menus.

The chefs’ showcase runs from 5-8 p.m., Saturday, March 9 at the Payson Public Library.

Guests will vote for their favorite chef, who will get a trophy and recognition as the “Best of the Best.”

In addition to sampling the food and wine, guests can also bid on a wide selection of silent auction items, including a catered five-course dinner for six to fine art work, jewelry and many other specialty items. A 50/50 raffle will reward the winner with half of the money from the raffle tickets sold. Fred Carpenter, DJ, will provide music for the evening.

Buy tickets at the Payson Public Library, with half the cost of the ticket being tax deductible. Don’t wait to get your ticket, as they are limited and will not be sold at the door on the evening of the event.

Other sponsors for 2013 include Terry Morris and Family, Pioneer Title and Chris Smith.

To learn more, call the Payson Public Library at (928) 474-9260 or online visit

Former Library Friends president Judy Buettner launched the event in 1999, although it was first called “The Payson Mayor’s Cup Appetizer Competition.”

Buettner said although neither the mayor nor the town provided much support, the first event sold 500 tickets.

“People were calling the radio station trying to get them. People were calling me for tickets,” Buettner said.

Initially 10 chefs offered their best recipes in the Tonto Apache Tribal Recreation Center gym. The winner of the first A Taste of Rim Country was the old Black Bear in Strawberry, and they went on to win the People’s Choice Award at a similar event in Scottsdale that originally gave Buettner the idea.

The first event raised about $9,000, said Buettner.

In spite of that first, great success, the Payson Library Friends didn’t stage the event consistently until John and Sue Wilson re-started the tradition, she said.

“Historically the money from the event has gone into our building expansion fund,” said retired library director Terry Morris. When it started, the library was still at the Womans Club on Main Street, Morris said.

However, for now, the current expansion project is on hold.

Because of space limitations, the event generally features only 10 chefs and has only 300 tickets available for purchase at $30 each. Usually, it sells out.

“We really have wonderful support from our residents,” Morris said. Most of the guests at the event are from the area, but there are also people who travel to Payson to take part.


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