WASHINGTON, D.C. (ABC7) — The search is on for a local pastry chef’s most prized possession: her handwritten cookbooks, full of some of her favorite one-of-a-kind recipes.
The recipes were inside a backpack that was stolen from Rebekka Baltzell’s car on Wednesday morning.
“It’s just kind of heartbreaking. I mean, there was some money in the backpack, but you can make more money, you can get more money. Those recipes are priceless. So it’s more the sentimental things and years of hard work that I’ve gone through,” she said.
Baltzell said it happened Wednesday morning when she was at work at Maketto’s in Northeast Washington. She parked her car just a few blocks away, near the corner of 13th and G Streets Northeast.
Baltzell says she left a small backpack underneath her front seat, because she only planned to be at work for about an hour. It’s a decision she now regrets.
“I should’ve known better,” she said.
When she returned to her car at about 12 p.m., her front passenger’s side window was shattered. Her black and white floral print JanSport backpack had been stolen. And inside that backpack was her wallet, along with five of Baltzell’s recipe books collected over the past decade.
“There were some recipes I’d created by myself or with another coworker and that was the only copy we have,” she said.
Many of the now missing recipes were scrawled inside a hot pink Hello Kitty notebook that holds special meaning to Baltzell. Her late father gave her the notebook when she started culinary school years ago. Her father passed away in 2014.
“It was just really special to me. Like every time I looked at it I thought of him. Every time I opened it to use a recipe it always kind of made me smile,” she said.
In exchange for the return of her recipes, she’s now cooked up a reward that only a pastry chef can offer: free pastries for an entire year.
“Yeah I was offering a hundred dollars and/or I’ll bake you pastries for a year, if that entices you,” she said.
She’s filed a report with DC Police, and she’s already cancelled her bank and credit cards that were stolen. But she doesn’t care about the money.
She also believes the recipes have no value to whoever stole them. So she’s going public with her plea and her creative reward, in hopes of getting back what she views as irreplaceable.
“Keep the money. Keep whatever you want – I just really need the recipe books back. Hopefully they’re not in some landfill somewhere already,” she said.
And from now on, she says, she’ll make sure to save a digital or online copy of every recipe she comes up with.
“Lesson learned. Definitely going to have to digitize everything,” she said.
If you happen to find one of Baltzell’s recipes books, you can contact her at Maketto’s.