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Tuesday, November 25th, 2008
By Janie Southard
A sweet dream coming true
One local grandmother is logging 400 miles a week to fulfill her dream of becoming a pastry chef. She's back and forth twice a week to Cincinnati attending the Art Institute of Ohio's culinary school, but Renate Delzeith is no stranger to food preparation.
Daughter of a professional cook, Delzeith of Celina recalls the days she "had to stand on a stool" when it was her turn to cook for her four siblings.
"I guess I was 10 years old then. Mom prepared the menus, of course, but each one of us took a turn cooking supper," says Delzeith, whose favorite meal was and still is fried chicken, mashed potatoes and corn.
Her mom, the late Ruth Long, cooked at Mercer Truck Stop for 20 years and made sure all her kids could cook.
That early teaching surely took hold with Delzeith, now 40. For the past 21/2 years she's worked as cook at Roberts Town Tavern in Celina. Before that she was 14 years a cook at the former Candlelight Inn and seven years cooking at the former Hollister's.
For the past few months she's been taking the school's basic liberals arts courses such as English and history. In January she'll begin the courses based in the kitchen.
"We'll start with basic stocks and knife work," she says, adding the drive is absolutely worth it. "Going to a school like this is all I hoped it would be."
The idea to become a pastry chef must have occurred to her on that kitchen stool because she's had the dream ever since she can remember.
"I think it probably began when Mom started making Easter bunny cakes when we were little ... One day we went to the hobby store in Celina and they had a whole bunch of candy molds," she says over coffee at Roberts. "We got some, and I really loved making candy."
She still does. She now has her own molds, 218 to be exact, and a little side-business that's especially busy around the holidays and for special events like weddings, birthdays, babies and so forth.
One early-morning patron at Roberts, also drinking coffee, recalls the "really cool chocolate carousel" Delzeith made as a surprise for his girlfriend.
"She'd never made one before and she did a great job. I wanted the horses (spotted) and she said she'd try. They turned out wonderful," he says, adding the whole thing was about a foot tall.
She works with molds to make carousels, cradles, churches, crosses and other figures. And true to her Mercer County heritage, she also makes chocolate lighthouses. The colored fancy work on all these pieces she applies freehand.
Delzeith says she likes to experiment especially with mixing flavors from the 69 she has available. She tried a white chocolate batch flavored with red licorice and saltwater taffy. Her two grandchildren are big fans of her efforts and head for the candy when they get to grandma's.
Her 2-year-old granddaughter comes in saying "chocolate, chocolate" and proceeds to check out the places she knows candy may be hidden. The little girl is usually successful because Delzeith likes to keep candy on hand.
Cooking in general and making candy in particular is what she calls relaxation. She has a big repertoire of candies she can whip up including some imitators like Giggles, Zilch and Galaxy, which taste like Snickers, Zero bars and Milky Way respectively.
"It takes about a half hour per pound to make the chocolates and hardtack," she says, adding she whipped up 11 pounds of creme-filled chocolates just the other day and loved every minute of it.
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