Maketto pastry chef Rebekka Baltzell stopped by work for just an hour yesterday to do some prep work for a kids’ cookie decorating class on Valentine’s Day. She figured she’d be in and out, so she left her backpack in the backseat of the car.
But when she returned to her parking spot at 13th and G streets Northeast, she noticed glass everywhere. Someone had broken into her car and stolen her black-and-white floral JanSport backpack containing her wallet and five hand-written recipe books. At least a thousand recipes from the past decade—basically her entire life’s work—were gone.
“They didn’t really get much of anything in taking it, but it’s priceless to me,” Baltzell says.
The stolen items include a burgundy Wonder Woman Moleskine, a notebook hand-bound with cupcake paper, a spiral notebook with the cover torn off, and a composition notebook with multi-color pineapples. She also had a hot pink notebook with Hello Kitty on top of a cupcake that her dad, who’s since passed away, gave her when she started culinary school. “I love that book,” she says. “Every time I used it and make recipes out of it, I think of him.”
The books contain recipes from her time working at Restaurant Eve and Society Fair as well as the last four years at Maketto. There’s also a trove of recipes from an internship in Italy she did after culinary school. Baltzell says she has always preferred the paper and pen to online documentation.
“I’m not the best with technology, it hates me. Certain things like that I like being old-school. I can edit the recipes while I’m working better,” she says.
She has copies of some of the recipes, and she can contact old colleagues for others. Recipes she uses every day for the menu are thankfully printed out in binder. But there were also a lot of old recipes or ideas that she was working on that don’t exist anywhere else. She fears she’s forever lost instructions for her favorite chocolate frosting and a “really great Mississippi mud fudgy bar cookie thing.”
Baltzell filed a police report and has even done some investigating on her own. She saw there were two purchases made on her stolen credit card at a corner store in Southeast DC, so she went to the shop to look around and ask the owner if she saw anything. “It was some boy she had never seen before, new to the neighborhood,” Baltzell says. “I’m really hoping they just rifled through, took the money, and threw it somewhere and hopefully someone will find it.”
Baltzell is offering a reward for the return of her notebooks: $100 and free pastries baked personally by her for a year. If you find something, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.