Food, Wine, And Books = Bliss

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The Randall House chef will share their wares and a bit of the atmosphere from their restaurants at the Taste of Rim event.

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The Historic Journigan House chefs will share their wares and a bit of the atmosphere from their restaurants at the Taste of Rim event.

Library patrons and food lovers rejoice! It’s time for 2013’s Taste of Rim Country. Participating in the feast and festivities are: 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.

Some participants are familiar contributors; others are taking part for the first time.

Barbara O’Conner and The Randall House have been part of the fun for more years than she can count, but they keep coming back because it is a fun event and a great way to support the library, she said.

They come away with new customers too.

This year the organizers, the Library Friends of Payson, decided to let the participants showcase the restaurants as they wished, so no theme was imposed.

O’Conner said she and her staff will give patrons a sample of the atmosphere at The Randall House by bringing some of the décor to their station. The food they will be sampling: 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. While, Mystrom has not taken part in A Taste of Rim Country before, a couple of his chefs have been involved and they will be sharing items from the lunch and dinner menus.

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Jeremy Prest, the chef at Miss Fitz 260 Cafe, will be sharing some of the old-fashioned hometown goodies the unique little restaurant is famous for. Participating in the 2013 Taste of Rim Country March 9 will be Miss Fitz, Randall House, Journigan House, Mazatzal Bakers (from the casino), Gerardo’s Firewood Cafe, Creekside Steak House, Cake Love by Monica, Zane Grey Restaurant at Kohl’s Ranch Lodge, and the PHS Culinary Club.

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Gerardo Moceri of Gerardo’s Firewood Cafe has been a regular at Taste of Rim.

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Chris Taylor the chef at the Zane Grey Restaurant at Kohl’s Ranch Lodge, is a new face at the event.

It is one of the best parties of the year – every year, the annual A Taste of Rim Country, presented by the Library Friends of Payson.

This showcase for both professional and aspiring Rim Country chefs is from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday, March 9 at the Payson Public Library.

The event is a gala evening to sample the great skills and foods offered in the Rim Country and enjoy a selection of wines or sparkling cider.

During the evening, guests may cast a ballot for their favorite chef. The chef who receives the most votes is named “Best of the Best” and given a trophy, recognizing their official status.

In addition to sampling the delicious food and wine, guests can also bid on a wide selection of Silent Auction items, ranging from a catered five-course dinner for six to fine art work, jewelry and many other specialty items.

There will also be a 50/50 raffle, with half of the proceeds going to a very lucky winner. Fred Carpenter, DJ, will provide music for the evening.

Tickets are $30 per person. All proceeds support the Payson Public Library and its various ongoing programs. Tickets are available for purchase 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.

Helping the Library Friends of Payson as sponsors of the 2013 event are Terry Morris and Family; Pioneer Title; and Chris Smith.

To learn more, please call the Payson Public Library at (928) 474-9260 or online visit www.libraryfriendsofpayson.org.

The event was first held around 1999. It was a unique fund-raising idea proposed to then-president of the Library Friends of Payson, Judy Buettner.

“Carolyn Wall told me about the Mayor’s Cup chef competition in Scottsdale,” Buettner recalled.

“She suggested we do something similar and send the winner of our contest to the one in Scottsdale.”

Thinking it was a great idea to help raise money to build the new library in Rumsey Park, Buettner put a committee together and they went to work.

“I think the Scottsdale event was in March. We started in January and had to work fast to get ours done before that to have someone go to theirs.”

Originally A Taste of Rim Country was called “The Payson Mayor’s Cup Appetizer Competition.” Buettner said there was not a lot of encouragement from the town’s mayor and no municipal financial support.

In spite of the lack of encouragement, the first Taste of Rim Country was almost more successful than the Library Friends and participating chefs could handle. About 500 tickets were sold, and more were wanted.

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

Initially 11 chefs had signed up, but one dropped out, so there were 10 — and that has been the goal for each subsequent Taste of Rim Country event.

The Tonto Apache Tribal Recreation Center gym was rented and decorated. Wine was donated and arrangements were made for music. The first year, artists were also invited to exhibit their work between the chefs’ stations and all of them donated work for the raffle.

“I wanted to bring it up to a higher level of fund-raising,” Buettner said.

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 the Scottsdale event.

Buettner said the event raised about $9,000.

In spite of that first, great success, there were a couple of years it was not held, Buettner said.

It was re-instituted by John and Sue Wilson, 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. And, as a rule, it has always sold 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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