Stella Ellin, gourmet cook since age 9


Stella G. Ellin, who enjoyed creating gourmet dishes in her kitchen and recently completed a cookbook, died yesterday of cancer at her Worthington Valley home. She was 69.

Her interest in food was stimulated in part by her parents, who operated the Naples, an Italian restaurant in York, Pa. She began cooking when she was 9 years old, creating several Italian dishes.

"She could cook anything -- French, Lebanese, Near Eastern -- and had just completed [an Italian] cookbook, 'La Cuccina from Agrigento to Aosta,' which will be published," said her husband, Marvin Ellin, a Baltimore attorney.

After moving to Maryland, Mrs. Ellin created dishes using hard crabs. A favorite of hers was "granchio oreganato," in which hard crabs -- with the top shells removed -- are covered with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, oregano, crushed garlic and chopped parsley. They were steamed for 25 minutes in olive oil and water. The broth was suitable for pouring over linguine.

After a 1970 automobile accident left her a paraplegic, Mrs. Ellin cooked in her wheelchair in a specially designed kitchen.

"She would never let her paraplegia stand in the way of doing things," Mr. Ellin said. "Other handicapped individuals were encouraged by her. She never spent 10 seconds in self-pity and refused to let what happened to her stand in her way. She entertained and traveled and her wheelchair has many miles on it, and had gone from Aosta [in northwest Italy] to Masada [in Israel].

"She had the will, determination and guts to go on, and she succeeded in inspiring so many people."

She was born Stella Granto in Washington, Pa., and attended schools there. She came to Baltimore during World War II to study nursing at the then-Mercy Hospital.

While traveling aboard a train from Harrisburg, Pa., to Baltimore, she met Mr. Ellin -- then a disc jockey and TV producer for WMAR-TV -- when he spilled a glass of milk in her lap.

"We were sitting in the day coach and she was studying when I spilled the milk," Mr. Ellin recalled. "She was shocked and jumped up as I ran to get some paper towels. After that, we started talking and later began dating. We were married a year later in 1946."

Other survivors include two sons, Morris and Raymond N. Ellin, and a daughter, Elisa Ellin, all of Owings Mills; and four grandchildren.

Services for Mrs. Ellin are private.

Memorial donations may be made to the Department of Neurosurgery, Lahey Clinic, Burlington, Mass. 01805.

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