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Cooking for the masses

From family to the army, to the VFW ... Glenn Trumpower can turn out food

From family to the army, to the VFW ... Glenn Trumpower can turn out food

April 30, 2006|By Kristin Wilson

Glenn Trumpower learned to cook from a woman who had a tall order to fill.

Edith Trumpower raised 15 children, of whom Glenn, now 71, is the youngest. With 17 mouths to feed, including herself and her husband, the late Edith Trumpower taught much to her young son about cooking and how to prepare food for a lot of people.

"I stood on a chair and watched my mother cook. I loved the way my mother cooked," says Trumpower, who now lives in Marlowe, W.Va.

Trumpower carried his love of cooking into the military when he joined in 1954. He was trained at Fort Meade, Md., as an Army cook and cooked for troops in Alaska and at the former Arlington Hall Station mess hall outside of Fort Myer, Va. He served meals for 600 people when he was in Germany, and he prepared food for officers' clubs. After he retired from the Army as a chief warrant officer, he cooked in gourmet restaurants and in health-food stores.

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Because of his food background, Trumpower has no pretensions about food, he says. He cooks everything from simple pasta dishes to comforting pot roasts to delicate and artistic pastries. He likes what tastes good and what pleases his dining audience.

Nancy Trumpower, Glenn's wife, loves her husband's Linguini and Red Clam Sauce. It's one of her favorite meals, although she says she likes just about everything he cooks.

"Since I've known (Glenn), I don't do any cooking," she says. "I don't even remember how."

"The only thing she does make is baked macaroni and cheese because she doesn't like how I make mine," Glenn Trumpower adds.

Ginny Bussard of Hagers-town has prepared food with Trumpower through the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1936 in Hagerstown. Trumpower has helped the ladies auxiliary prepare large quantities of food for dinners or charity events, she says. He's made "30 pounds at a time or more" of steamers for Martinsburg, W.Va., Veterans Affairs Medical Center picnics, Bussard says.

"He's cooked roast beef dinners. He has sometimes 50 pounds of meat at a time, depending on the crowds," she says. What sets his roast beef apart are the seasonings he uses, she adds.

"I sometimes would rather eat his cooking than mine," Bussard says with a laugh.

Trumpower says cooking and baking are ways he can express his creativity.

"The one thing I love about cooking is cooking is nothing more than an expression of your personality and imagination," he says.

Glenn Trumpower recently answered the following questions while making his Linguini and Red Clam Sauce:

Q: What did you most learn about cooking in the Army?

A: I can cook for two or 2,000. Numbers don't mean nothing to me in the way of cooking. All I've got to do is know how many people are going to be there and if I've got anybody to help me.

Q: What is the trick to cooking for large numbers of people?

A: It's the same. No big deal. ... On a piece of meat or something like that ... I normally figure approximately a quarter of a pound of beef, you know, per person. If you've got a hundred people, divide it by four, it would be 25 pounds of meat.

Q: Do you have a favorite thing to cook of all the things that you've experienced?

A: One of the favorite things that I do - and I do it every time I have shrimp and have some leftovers - I make an awesome egg roll. When I lived in Florida I wanted to open up a place serving nothing but egg rolls. And I was going to call it "Egg Rolls To Go."

The thing is everybody, they either have a pizza joint or a hamburger joint or a chicken joint or something like that. But the only place you can get egg rolls is in a Chinese restaurant, or now they've got them in delis and stuff like that, but most of them are frozen, and they just deep-fat-fry them.

Although I buy the wrapper, I take and prepare all of my ingredients for inside of them and roll my own and everything else. I can cook the stuff up ahead of time. My idea was that you could do it with about five pieces of equipment and everything would be carried out so you didn't have to worry about the problems of waitresses and breaking dishes or somebody stealing your silverware or all the other things that take place in a restaurant - which I've cooked in many of them.

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