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Chef Aaron Rothgeb of Pine Valley Country Club suggests two easy dishes for novice cooks to make for their mothers: Monte Cristo Pizza, top, and a Veggie Omelet.

Tasty, simple for mom

Local chef offers novice cooks advice for Mother’s Day

To make the best omelet, make sure your pan and oil are hot.

Aaron Rothgeb knows a thing or two about making elaborate spreads for mom’s big day.

The head chef at Pine Valley Country Club is preparing to make brunch for 600 people on Mother’s Day, but he says just the effort of cooking for mom can be enough to make her day special.

“Don’t overthink and stress yourself out,” Rothgeb would tell novices who want to cook for mom.

Mother’s Day brunch wasn’t a tradition for the Rothgeb family when he was growing up. Nor was there any kind of food-related Mother’s Day tradition for them.

“Both of my parents can cook,” says Rothgeb, who has been cooking at Pine Valley Country Club since 2001 and has been its head chef for three years. “But my mom is a nurse, so she worked odd hours. A lot of times she would work; pick up an extra shift (on Mother’s Day).

“We get her flowers.”

Still, Rothgeb knows as well as anyone how much brunch goes with this day to honor mom.

Two of his favorite brunch items to suggest to novices are a Monte Cristo pizza and an omelet. Both are easy and both can be altered to suit mom’s taste.

The omelet is lifted to something special by a unique cheese – Cambozola, a combination of camembert and gorgonzola.

“It is one of my favorite cheeses to come across,” says Rothgeb, who admits he is really into cheese. “It’s like finding a four-leaf clover when you find a great cheese.”

The most important tip for making the omelet – make sure the pan and oil are hot before you add any ingredients. And don’t sweat it if it starts going wrong in the pan because a bad omelet converts to great scrambled eggs easily.

“It’s all gonna get chopped up by your teeth anyway,” Rothgeb said.

His pizza came via request – sort of.

“We used to have the sandwich on the menu and took it off, but one of our members wanted the sandwich (for brunch), so I told them to let me play around with it and come up with something,” Rothgeb said. “So I came up with a pizza because I knew he liked pizza, too.”

The most difficult part of either recipe is making the over-easy eggs that top the pizza without breaking them.

“It’s a very delicate item and even experts can pop a yolk easily,” he said.

If neither of his recipes works for you, Rothgeb said just make anything you think you can. The effort to cook something for mom will be enough to please her.