Gerardo in the kitchen

Gerardo Moceri making pizza with his son Gerardo Jr. and daughter Natalie in 2005.

The Payson School Board honored one of the district’s most stalwart supporters at a recent meeting – restaurant owner Gerardo Moceri.

The owner of Gerardo’s Firewood Café recently closed his Payson restaurant to devote his full efforts to a restaurant he’d opened in Sedona.

Moceri raised his children in Payson and as they moved through the schools here, he extended constant support to education here.

He worked closely with the district’s culinary arts program, trained interns and over the years hired 100 graduates of the culinary arts program.

PUSD Superintendent Greg Wyman said, “Gerardo and his family has played a major role in the district -- fundraising, donating food, teaching, volunteering. They were a major support of high school soccer team and the track team. They donated t shirts, hosted banquets and made sure athletes got top notch meal.

“The restaurant has been a backdrop for many of our students growing up. Gerardo and Maria have taken many of our students under their wing and helped them grow up. We will miss having them involved in the Payson schools community, but their influence will go on for a long time. We truly want to thank you for everything you’ve done.”

In a voice tight with emotion, Moceri said, “I still live here – we’ll always help out. If kids from Payson go to NAU, they always have a job in Sedona. I’ve got kids who started out in the Payson culinary program, working now in the Sedona restaurant as adults, and doing a great job.”

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