My mother said, “The best is not good enough for the brides that we are catering for.” When my father made an issue because you spent all this money for a cloth, she said, “I want you to know, one day the brides that have Bluefeld cater will eat off silver.”
Caterer and wedding planner Louis Bluefeld, 1978 [OH 75]
While the wedding cake may be the most picturesque element, the rest of the meal can be just as important (if more fleeting). A couple must think about current fashions, the time of day, and their budget—along with the appetites, and dietary needs, of their various guests.
In the case of communities like the Haredim, where traditions differ from the mainstream and a strict interpretation of halacha requires very specific things, businesses spring up to cater (literally) to those needs.
Phyllis Becker and Duke Zimmerman preparing to cut their wedding cake, June 30, 1968. The elaborate rum cake was made, at a cost of about 50 cents per guest (based on 350-500 guest estimate ahead of time), by the caterers at the reception venue, DC’s Sheraton Park Hotel.
Courtesy of Duke and Phyllis Zimmerman. JMM CP 2017.14.2
One of the best-known Baltimore caterers of the 20th century was Bluefeld’s, which began when Bessie Bluefeld opened a beach-side food stand outside Baltimore in the hopes of supporting her family; her first official catering job was a wedding in 1937.
In the 1950s, Louis and Philip Bluefeld expanded the business by opening two venues for weddings and other events: Blue Crest on Reisterstown Road (1955) and Blue Crest North in Pikesville (1959).
Wedding invitation for the marriage of Myrna Edelman and Benjamin Cardin, Blue Crest North, November 24, 1964. Gift of Myrna and Ben Cardin. JMM 2016.27.3
After her unexpected death in 1941 her sons continued the enterprise, eventually building it into one of the premier caterers ( always kosher, even when the clients were not Jewish ) in the Baltimore-DC area. They were pioneers, catering the first kosher wedding at Baltimore’s Hotel Belvedere ( for Ira and Myra Askin, in 1947 ) and preparing the first kosher meal served at the White House ( during the Peace Accords in 1978 ).
Catering bill for the wedding of Eleanor Yaffe and Harry Chernikoff, Beth Sholom (also known as “Eighth and Shepherd”), Washington DC, November 2, 1947. The Bluefeld Caterer letterhead notes both “Strictly Kosher” and “Carrying on the name and Business of the late Mrs. Bessie Bluefeld.”
Courtesy Louis Bluefeld. JMM CP 14.2011.9
Menu from the wedding of Laura Frank and Max Greif, both from Baltimore, on October 19, 1880. The meal, catered by E. Ehrlich, featured seven courses, not including “Cold-Ornamented” selections and a variety of relishes, pastries, fruit, and coffee. Unlike many later Jewish wedding menus, there is nothing particularly Jewish or “ethnic” on the list.
Anonymous gift. JMM 1988.209.3
Menu from the wedding of Rae Freedman and Isadore Mount, who were married by Rabbi Schepsel Schaffer of Shearith Israel at the Southern Hotel, Baltimore, March 7, 1926. The menu is in French (which makes everything sound fancy), but the specific caterer is unknown.
Gift of Shirley Freedman. JMM 1989.211.9
Receipt from Berlin Caterers for the wedding of Betty Rebecca Appleby and Alvin M. Ford, married by Rabbi Israel Tabak of Shaarei Zion at the Alcazar Ballroom, February 26, 1939. The reception featured sweets and hors d’oeurves, with many traditionally Jewish delicacies – including the inked-in addition of chopped herring.
On loan from Mary-Jo Ford Dale. JMM L2017.13.2