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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : the villager : the villager May 24, 2016

3/27/2013 8:09:00 AM
Levengood's high bid wins them one fantastic dinner
Celebrating a great auction in Oct. 2012 are Fran Levengood, Chef Jeff Stevens, Riba Sikorski, Sedona Winds Director, and Bill Levengood
Celebrating a great auction in Oct. 2012 are Fran Levengood, Chef Jeff Stevens, Riba Sikorski, Sedona Winds Director, and Bill Levengood

The generosity of Fran and Bill Levengood found them the winners of a chef prepared dinner in their home.

They were the high bidders for this item at the 2nd Annual Filet and Lobster Benefit Dinner held at Sedona Winds Assisted Living October 2012.

The benefit was held for the community to support the fight against Alzheimer’s. Numerous donations, besides the facility donation of the chef, were given for the suction and it alone raised $7,500 for the cause.

Before we left the event, we captured a photo of Chef Jeff Stevens and the Levengoods with a promise to let The Dunnery report on the prize dinner to be held at a later date.

We knew the dinner would be great because the event dinner we attended, designed and prepared by Chef Jeff Stevens, was unusually good, taking our enjoyment way beyond our expectations for a group function in a health care facility.

Suzie arrived at the Levengoods in January to find a beautifully set table for six. Fran said she and Bill set the table service and Chef Jeff and his front-of-the-house manager, Omar Molina, arranged the stemware. By the looks of it, this was going to be an “all out” dinner.

Guests for the evening included Meg Fenzi (Regional Director, SW Chapter, Alzheimers Assn.), her husband,Warren and friends,Carol and Dave Thomas.

The kitchen was bustling. Omar was pealing the asparagus and Chef was running the lamb in and out of the oven at the same time he was preparing the wine reduction for it.

Fran was opening cheese and Bill was showing his selection of wines. Chef had already made dinner rolls (one for Suzie to take home, too!), had a puree of parsnip, apple and rice ready for the bisque and was putting his touches on the soufflé that would be baked after the dinner began.

“It’s all about timing,” Chef said. We were delighted that he shared some of his cooking secrets with us.

How fortunate Sedona Winds Assisted Living is to have a chef with Jeff’s qualifications and passion. His training began in Santa Barbara at the Food Institute in ’89 where his passion for garnishing techniques was born. From that time until more recently, he gained experience in restaurants and hotels, small and corporate, in both CA and AZ.

He had a previous five year stint at Sedona Winds Assisted Living, was wooed away for a short time and was requested to return. That he could write his own menus sold him on returning. “I consider myself in service to the residents. The job is perfect because this is what I like to do. I create my menus for them.”

Here is Chef Jeff’s menu accompanied by Bill Levengood’s Wine Selections

Appetizer: Spinach and Feta Triangles, accompanied by a sweet yet spicy dipping sauce plus Brie with Truffles and White Stilton Cheeses

1st course: Parsnip and Apple Bisque with Onion Roll and Herb Butter

2nd course: Roast Rack of Lamb with Port Wine Reduction; Duchesse Potato and Roasted Asparagus

Wine Choices: 2010 Drouhin-Vaudon Chablis & 2010 Page Springs Smokin’ Jacket, a Cab Sauv-Movedre blend

Dessert: Chocolate Soufflé with Créme Anglaise

Finish: Taylor Fladgate 10 Tawny Port

Suzie scooted before the guests arrived. She was certain the evening would be a success, both for the Levengoods and the chef and his mate.

If we’re lucky, Sedona Winds Assisted Living and Jeff will team up again for a wonderful Alzheimer’s fund raising event in 2013. We’ll be there.

Thanks to all involved. To our readers’ health and happiness, Jeff and Suzie at The Dunnery

Bites and Sips:

1. We’ve re-discovered that resident Tim Cox makes great Mexican food -- he and Kathy hosted at post tennis event at their home. We were wowed by the variety and quantity prepration of tasty dishes and accompaniments made by Tim himself. Of course our tennis friends are no slouches in the kitchen and each brought an additional dish to pass. Calories out = calories in!

2. The Dunnery made three dining stops during the film festival, in addition to a couple stops for Harkin’s popcorn and breakfast to go by Heartline Café. We headed Uptown, knowing it was touristy, but we had a coupon and needed a “blue-hair” dinner (before 5 p.m.) to make our 6 p.m. film.

The Cowboy Club presented tasty cactus fries and buffalo tenderloin. Sadly, prime rib was not offered until 5 p.m. A bottle of Justin Cabernet soothed our disappointment. Another day we ate at Barking Frog and were so pleased with its version of fried calamari. We had just seen the documentary on songwriter, Paul Williams, whose favorite food is calamari. What groupies!

Along with Sexton Zinfandel,Jeff enjoyed the lamb shank adobo served with polenta and Suzie had the very tasty smoked salmon salad. Our last evening at the festival we stopped in at Dahl and DiLuca and ate at the bar while visiting with Hilton Eforea Spa trainer- turned-evening-bartender, Nathan Moses.

Jeff had Lisa’s reliable gnocci in vodka crème sauce with a glass of Pinot and Suzie had “outstanding” seafood bruschetta with a glass of Chianti. Not bad for four days, right?

3. In the same week, we made a stop in Old Town Cottonwood to help some friends move a dining set. During the film festival we had seen the ad for a reopening of The Schoolhouse Restaurant on Main Street. We aimed there for lunch. Unfortunately, it was still closed for remodeling. A telephone call informed us it will be open for lunch and dinner by press time. We lunched instead on the patio of the enlarged Old Town Red Rooster Café. Good soups, sandwiches and local brew.

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