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OUT OF THE FRYING PAN AND INTO COOKING SCHOOL FOR OUSTED GOVERNOR

One year after his fraud conviction forced him to resign in disgrace, former Gov. Fife Symington spends his days not in prison but in the aromatic kitchens of a renowned cooking school.

He's slicing, dicing and julienning his way toward becoming a gourmet chef.

"I've always wanted to learn to cook," he said. "I'm a pretty good breakfast cook, and for 20 years I've wanted to do this."

Symington, a two-term Republican governor, was convicted a year ago Wednesday on federal charges of defrauding lenders of $23 million as a real estate developer in the 1980s and early '90s. He tearfully resigned two days later.

A judge sentenced Symington to 2 1/2 years in prison, but he remains free on appeal.

These days, Symington, 53, and his wife, Ann, spend 6 1/2 hours a day, five days a week in a 15-month degree program at Scottsdale Culinary Institute. The ex-governor, whose wife is a partner in Roy's, a posh Scottsdale restaurant, says his $17,000 cooking classes are therapeutic.