Catering, including kosher, part of landmark business

Restaurant profile

August 08, 2002|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Putting On the Ritz and, ultimately, Ritz Kosher - a new kosher catering service in Howard County - had their beginnings in Ma's Kettle, one of Savage's neighborhood landmark eating places.

Established in 1976, Ma's Kettle was started by Mary Ann Mitchell, who bought "a neighborhood hamburger joint I used to like that was down the street from where we lived," according to her son, Bobby.

A divorced mother bringing up her son single-handedly, she poured the money she had saved from her job as a waitress into buying the building and creating the restaurant.

"The first night she counted her take - just $100 - and cried. She used to get more in tips," Bobby said. "I told her that someday we'd make our fortunes from the restaurant."

Ma's Kettle offers solid, down-home food. There's Ma's BBQ Sandwich (pulled pork or chicken in barbecue sauce with a side of homemade coleslaw), Gobblers Delight (stacked turkey with Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato and bacon on a hard roll).

There also is Bob's Famous Club (ham, roast beef, Swiss and American cheeses, lettuce, tomato, bacon and onion).

The restaurant also has vegetarian dishes such as the Powerhouse sandwich (alfalfa sprouts, lettuce, tomatoes, havarti cheese and a cream ranch dip served with coleslaw) and the Veggie Burger.

There's also a variety of soups and salads.

With her son's encouragement, Mary Ann Mitchell persevered. After college and a career change, Bobby Mitchell joined Ma's Kettle in 1983.

They began offering deli trays and doing small catering jobs. Then they decided they needed a more polished catering service and opened Putting on the Ritz in 1985.

"It began growing and growing and growing," Bobby said. The catering business's growth and the increasing demand for kosher food led to the founding of Ritz Kosher in January.

Some entrees available through Putting on the Ritz and Ritz Kosher are Lacquered Salmon (fresh North Atlantic salmon, "lacquered" with pure maple syrup), Roasted Leg of Lamb (encrusted with cracked pepper and basted with mint), Honey and Chili Glazed Salmon (pan seared Pacific salmon, marinated overnight in honey, tomatoes and chipotle chili pepper).

There also is Spinach Salad with Pecans and Peach Vinaigrette, Athens Chicken (boneless breast of chicken sauteed in olive oil, white wine with kalamata olives, capers and artichoke hearts) and Chantilly Pasta, prepared with sweet basil cream sauce and roasted pine nuts.

"We work with Metro K for our kosher certificate - kosher is more than just avoiding pork and certain food combinations, like mixing meat and milk," Bobby said.

"It's also having a kitchen that is certified kosher by a rabbi trained in the Jewish laws of kashrut," he said.

All Ritz Kosher catering is prepared in a separate kitchen facility that is supervised by Rabbi Zev Schechter.

"Now the restaurant is the smallest part of the business," Bobby Mitchell said.

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