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It’s All About Family Ties: ‘Me & 3’

It started with rugelach.

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Freshly rolled rugelach ready for the oven.

— Potomac’s Harvey Bernstein was born to bake. His father and brother were bakers and his mother was an excellent cook. As a young man, he always sought employment in the food industry, performing a multitude of jobs from cook to waiter. However, he listened to his father when he said, “Don’t work with your body, work with your brain” and became an attorney. However, his happiest moments were when he was kneading, rolling and elbow-deep in dough. His specialty was rugelach — a crescent-shaped cream-cheese dough pastry, home-baked for their family holidays and celebrations.

Fast forward to 1996 when Bernstein and his youngest daughter, 11-year-old Corey, launched their baking business, “Daughter and Dad.” Corey convinced a local bakery that she and her dad could make a better rugelach than the bakery was selling. After the manager tasted their product, he said, “Can you supply my four stores?” Harvey Bernstein said, “No way,” but Corey said “Why not?”

The business then became a Bernstein family project, with mom, Melinda (Mim) and older sister Lynsey making deliveries and sales calls. They expanded to four flavors of rugelach and sold them at Dean & Deluca, Baker’s Place, Border’s Books, Manhattan Bagels, Quartermaine Coffee, Bagel City and other restaurants. However, after a few years, Corey wanted to pursue her interest in theater at Churchill High School and they decided to discontinue their business.

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The Bernsteins “Me and 3:” Corey, Harvey, Mim and Lynsey.

But it’s 2013 — and the Bernstein family is back in business with their new moniker “Me & 3.” The timing has changed — Bernstein retired in March from Computer Sciences Corporation and Corey graduated in pastry arts from L’Academie de Cuisine in 2011; thus, they both can devote their time fully to the success of the business. They decided to expand their cookie variety — and have created cookies and pastries, while keeping their signature rugelach. Mim Bernstein is still involved with the business end of the company, and Lynsey is developing the website and market through social media.

Working together as a family could be quite complex and possibly a little tense, but the Bernsteins have a camaraderie coupled with a sense of humor. There is an understanding that “we are all in this together — for better or worse” while there is also lots of laughter and good-natured ribbing.

With a short anecdote, Harvey Bernstein describes their family wit. “At Thanksgiving, we used to tell Corey, since she was the youngest, that her job was to stand by the oven and watch the turkey to make sure he didn’t fly away.” Now they give their grandchild the same assignment — but, of course, he catches on to the absurdity very quickly.

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A sample of baked goods from Me & 3.

Corey and Harvey Bernstein spend countless hours together in their shared kitchen located in a church on Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda. “I am excited that so many restaurants appreciate our product. Once they taste it, they want it,” said Corey. They currently are supplying cookies for the Brooklyn Deli in the Potomac Woods Shopping Center, The Carving Room in D.C., the Central Farm Markets in Bethesda and Rockville and Dawson’s Market in Rockville. They are also in discussions with the new Attman’s in the Cabin John Shopping Center and Quartermaine Coffee.

Corey discusses the process: “We use only high quality ingredients, such as real unsalted butter and cream cheese. Everything is traditionally baked. The dough is rolled by hand, the fillings are made from the best ingredients — and we produce an excellent cookie. Some of the recipes have been in our family for generations, but I have also invented some new recipes — mostly through trial and error. My fiancé likes his role as chief taster.”

“We like to make small savory treats,” Harvey Bernstein said. “We don’t want to create big, gooey desserts. We are delivering a very high quality indulgence — a taste, not a transfusion. Some of our cookies include biscotti, black and whites and lemon coconut cookies.”

Mim Bernstein explains that the company is also catering events. “We provide the sweets for wedding and baby showers, holiday parties, open houses, housewarming and other events. We will also be creating beautiful gift baskets for every occasion that will feature our luscious home-baked pastries.”

To book “Me & 3” for special events, call Mim Bernstein at 301-807-0989 or e-mail her at mebernstein@meand3.net.