Minda Metz is in the business of making unusual goodness â€” edible unusual goodness, that is.
Metz owns The Buzz, a cafe-and-bakery fusion that holds a comfortable, coffee-shop vibe and draws locals to Monrovia, Md., in hoards.
Her cooking is dubbed here as unusual â€” because itâ€™s unusual that Metz is even in Monrovia. Hereâ€™s why: Metz worked for four years as Ralph Laurenâ€™s personal chef, first in Telluride, Colo., and then in Manhattan in New York City. She also quadrupled the sales of Knife & Fork Caterers, a catering company in Rockville, developing the menu and working as head of catering. Among other culinary pursuits, Metz owned Crescent City, a restaurant in Alexandria, which closed in 1996.
All that is to say Metz is a 56-year-old foodie extraordinaire â€” but in 2009 she decided to debut and establish her talents in a small shopping center in Monrovia. And she said sheâ€™s here to stay.
â€śWhat I love â€¦ is that I always envisioned having a place that has a lot of community camaraderie, and we have attained that,â€ť said Metz, whose warm and hospitable nature brings a contagious spirit to the cafe. â€śYoung people [come and] donâ€™t want to leave. There is a good vibe [here].â€ť
Metz said sheâ€™s been obsessed with food since she was a child, beginning in the kitchens of the farm she grew up on in Minnesota. She said her mom never forced her into the kitchen â€” she has just always been passionate about it.
â€śI donâ€™t recall a time I wasnâ€™t interested in food,â€ť said Metz, who lives in Mt. Airy with her husband and two sons. â€śI wake up thinking about food; I go to bed thinking about food.â€ť
The Buzz opened in June 2009. Leading up to that point, Metz said she had just been let go from Knife & Fork Caterers due to the economy and was discouraged about her career. It was her nail technician at Green Valley Center (just a few doors down from what is now The Buzz), who prodded her to consider a space that was up for sale â€” and it was her nail technician who made her an appointment to look at the space, three years ago this month.
Two weeks later, Metz owned the space. From late February 2009 through its opening in June â€” what was formerly an ice cream shop â€” she transformed into a chic space for The Buzz. More electric lines were added, the kitchen was expanded, walls painted a warm shade and a mahogany slab was installed at the coffee bar â€” acquired during a home restoration in Georgetown. Now, the walls are splattered with framed, colorful art, all done by Urbana-area students.
The Buzzâ€™s first year was tough, Metz said., Metz said.
â€śEvery day, I wondered if we were going to make it to the next,â€ť she said. The Buzz also offers catering, and as that picked up and business continued to increase, the business began to thrive. Now, a weekend barely goes by where The Buzz doesnâ€™t have at least one event to cater, Metz said.
Last year, Metz was named entrepreneur of the year in the Start-Up Business category by the Entrepreneur Council of Frederick County. Metz, who said she was stunned, said the award was a huge affirmation and encouragement for her work.
What stands out about The Buzz, Metz said, is simply that itâ€™s good.
â€śIt stands out in this area because it is so unusually good,â€ť she said. â€śWhen people come in here the menu is unusual enough that we can always find something that they like.â€ť
The menu not only has unique food items, but it changes every week and carries a different theme. For example, last year one week was dubbed Psychology Week, where she offered dishes including the breakfast item Attitude Adjustment Frittata. Each week, Metz said, there is a breakfast sandwich on the menu, a french toast or a waffle offering for breakfast and for lunch, always a specialty sandwich and two salads â€” one with meat and one vegetarian option.
One week in December, a cajun-shrimp salad sandwich was offered, served warm, topped with melted cheese and avocado. This month, Metz said she will be offering Mardi Gras with a New Orleans-themed menu, as well as Valentines dishes and baked goods.
Everything on the menu is made from scratch and is fresh daily, Metz said, including the salad dressings, soups and aiolis, which are used on the paninis. As far as baked goods go, Metz said the baked goods and icings are made with real butter â€” not Crisco or shortening, but the real stuff. Thatâ€™s part of why the baked goods go fast every day.
This month sheâ€™s baking up specialty Valentineâ€™s Day treats including themedÂ cupcakes, painted sugar cookies, brownies and sweetheart pies, available all month and on Feb. 14.
As far the future, Metz said she would love to expand the location but fears it could lose part of its charm. â€śI think itâ€™s a lot of fun to have that line out the door,â€ť she said.
When making a visit to The Buzz, note that itâ€™s closed on Mondays. The Buzz is located at 11801 Fingerboard Road in Monrovia, and can be reached at 301.865.4900, thebuzzgreenvalley.com or on Facebook; Metz posts weekly updates and photographs about the foods she is making on her personal page.