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Rita Paxton Officier and Grand Commandeur

Wednesday, April 19, 2023 7:12 PM | Sue Geary (Administrator)

Rita Paxton

Officier and Grand Commandeur

Rita’s culinary curiosity began at the age of ten when she received for her birthday a Better Homes and Garden cookbook and started preparing food for her family. In the few years since then, she has expanded her knowledge and experience of food and wine as she moved from a semi-rural Ohio town to Belgrade, Yugoslavia to the California Bay Area and to Salt Lake City, where she and Roger have resided since 1964.

Rita’s nearly 40 years as a member of La Chaîne began at her induction in September of 1983. The previous month, the Salt Lake Tribune's food writer published an article entitled “Superb Cooking with a Wordly Flair” featuring Rita's recipes and her culinary history.

At about the same time she entered the wine and spirits brokerage business beginning as a part time employee and gradually becoming a co-partner and the chief financial officer of Phoenix Wines and Spirits. This firm employed at its peak eight employees, including at one time Utah's only sommelier. Until two of the nation's large brokerage firms entered the Utah market, PWS sales were number one in the state. She retired from the business ten years ago. In 1982, Rita, along with Ashby Decker and others, founded the popular and well-respected Wasatch Mountain Food and Wine Society, which continued 35 years.

Rita has been a Chaine member during the Bailli leadership of seven of the eight SLC Chaine Baillis. She was inducted into the organization along with Stuart Cross, who was the Hotel Utah's CEO and the predecessor of Ashby Decker. She has served as Vice Chargée de Presse and as Vice Conseiller Gastronomique.

In her spare time, Rita was an elementary school teacher with Salt Lake City District for forty-three years. She taught summertime cooking classes for elementary-aged students. One of her students, who did not attend any of these classes, occasionally brought his homemade food to share with his classmates. He later became a professionally trained chef and is now the chef and owner of a fine dining Salt Lake City restaurant.

Rita continues to grace all of our Chaîne gatherings with her knowledge, her impeccable class, and her “worldly flair.” We are humbled to honor Rita in her elevation to Officier and Grand Commandeur.

Chaîne Salt Lake City

Address: PO Box 900727, Sandy UT 84090

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