DAY IN THE LIFE: She storms through her kitchen, leaving sweet things in her wake

Thursday, August 27, 2009
By Brandy Dolce

“They call me the hurricane here,” says Marianne Rosa as she spins the cake on the pedestal and jabs at it with a tube of pink icing. In seconds, a rose garden blossoms on top of the cake, complete with green leaf detail.
“Happy 40th Birthday Mom” follows in pink cursive.
Just beyond, a large silver mixer stands at the ready. It was a 40th-birthday gift and remains one of Rosa’s prized possessions.
“Some women like diamonds or furs,” Rosa says. “I got my 20-quart Hobart mixer.”
Rosa, 48, of Spring Lake Heights opened What’s For Dessert eight years ago. Today, she’s bustling in and out of the kitchen situated at the rear of the long rectangular bakery.
She and her weekday morning staff of about five can be seen beyond the kitchen door that is crowned with a black, cut-out clock — its hour hand a knife, its minute hand a fork.
In the front of the shop, Steve Vota, 57, of Wall turns from the counter after getting his crumb cake.
“I’m very boring,” he says.
After all, there are cookie snowmen with white icing turning up their candy-carrot noses and waving at him with pretzel-stick arms from beneath the glass counter. French apple pie and blueberry and cheese crumb cakes beckon as well. Behind Vota, a giant cookie decorated as Noah’s ark is afloat among a jungle of colorful animal cookies. And yes, one may buy them in pairs.
“That’s what drags me in here,” says Sea Girt resident Lorraine Levant, 59, who has just purchased a bag of painted cookies for her grandchildren.
“Theirs are the most beautiful,” she says of the cookies. “And they taste the best.”
Lorraine Riley of Spring Lake Heights regularly comes in for a slice of chocolate cake. This morning is no differ-ent. She’s there, tightly folding over the top of her little brown bag stuffed with cake as she heads out the door.
Many who come here are frequent customers, and Rosa’s staff almost always know what their usual customers want when they walk in the door.
“It’s almost like bartenders who know their regulars,” Rosa says.
Behind a display of wedding cakes — one adorned in red rose petals, another in seashells that spiral down a three-tiered, bride-white cake — Anita Kohl of Manasquan sits at a small round table across from her daughter, Michelle, 13.
Michelle’s birthday is just two days away, and now she sits licking the icing off a cupcake and thinking about the birthday cake her mom ordered from Rosa.
“It’s sort of like ‘Cheers,”" Kohl says of the bakery as she maneuvers her fingers around a sticky bun. “You can walk in the back and say, ‘Hey, Marianne. How ya doing today?”"
Any food not purchased today will be given to the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties in Neptune. The oldest of nine children, Rosa believes that “you just don’t throw food away.”
-The Asbury Park Press

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