For Hampstead couple, fancy food is spice of life Accomplished chefs, they unite talents for charity

March 26, 1997|By Nora Catherine Koch | Nora Catherine Koch,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

What's for dinner at the Bertucco house? Seems like you'd expect something pretty fancy on the table at their Hampstead home.

Before he gets off work, Bob Bertucco might spend hours preparing a grilled salmon with a black bean and mango salsa.

Likewise, his wife, Jennifer, could have been working at her job on a 10-tier wedding cake, decorated with molded white chocolate roses dusted with gold that was shipped to Philadelphia for a reception.

The banquet chef at Turf Valley Hotel and Country Club in Ellicott City, Bob Bertucco and his staff prepare the food for about 20 functions a week -- weddings, proms, golf outings, retirement parties, bull roasts and other events.

He creates elegant sculptures from 300-pound blocks of ice and can turn a bunch of vegetables into a colorful flower bouquet or a melon into a swan.

Jennifer has been a pastry chef at Sweet Indulgence in Owings Mills for the past four years. She creates confectionary masterpieces, decorating cakes that are carried to receptions throughout the mid-Atlantic region.

Her cakes are adorned with molded white chocolate figurines, candied fruits, gum paste and fondant icing. The average price for one of these wedding cakes is $400 to $500; some can cost $1,000. Jennifer made the cake for former Gov. William Donald Schaefer's retirement ceremony.

The couple combine their talent to compete in culinary competitions to raise money for charity.

For the past two years, they have won first prize at the Festival of Trees Gingerbread Competition in Timonium, a benefit of the Kennedy Krieger Institute. At last winter's competition, the Bertuccos designed, baked and decorated a gingerbread house, complete with wrap-around porch, stained- glass windows, sculptured roof and a turret.

The Bertuccos enjoy the friendly competition of the events. "It's going to a good cause, but it takes a lot of time. Our bosses are really good about it," Bob Bertucco said.

The couple met at the Academy of Culinary Arts in Mays Landing, N.J. Shortly after graduation in June 1987, they married and moved to Maryland.

They settled in Hampstead in 1990, with dreams of someday opening a bakery in the town. Plans were pushed aside when Bob was hired at Turf Valley eight years ago, but the bakery dream remains.

"At this point our kids are our priority. When they get a little older we'll think about it again," said Bob Bertucco.

They have two children, Bobby, 5, and Kelsey, 3, who says her favorite food is cheese curls.

So what's for dinner tonight at the Bertuccos?

"Chicken nuggets," the Bertuccos say in unison.

Pub Date: 3/26/97

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