Creating her own recipe for success at senior center |

Creating her own recipe for success at senior center

Rhonda Costa-Landers
Appeal Staff Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Kitchen Manager Becky Heldenbrand works Wednesday at the Carson City Senior Citizen Center.

Baking for Becky Heldenbrand has always been a passion. That passion has turned into her dream job at the Carson City Senior Citizens Center.

From the days in Iowa she spent with her grandmother in the kitchen, Heldenbrand has learned the fine art of baking.

“Cookies is my big thing,” Heldenbrand said. “I spent a lot of time with my grandmother in the kitchen.

“My mother is terrible (at cooking),” she laughed.

Heldenbrand, 46, moved to Carson City with her husband, Jim, and their three sons – Joe, 22, Andy, 23, and Jeremy, 28 – from Des Moines, Iowa, 10 years ago.

For nine years she worked manufacturing jobs. Then one day, her husband spotted a job listing in the newspaper for a baker at the senior center.

“He told me it was right up my alley,” she said.

Heldenbrand was hired in September. When the position of kitchen manager became available, she submitted a résumé and application for it. She is now the cook and kitchen manager.

“I am teaching Frank Lersch to cook, and that will leave more managerial duties to me. But I will still cook because I just love to do it.”

While walking through the kitchen of the senior center, the savory aroma of baked chicken lingers in the air.

Heldenbrand’s background in food service comes from her years of working as cook, baker and night supervisor at both an assisted-living facility and care center in Des Moines, while at the same time working on her dietitian’s license.

Heldenbrand said the feedback from the Carson City seniors who partake in the daily meals has been mostly positive.

“They say they like what I’m making. But you’ll never please everyone. I do my best and am open to suggestions. I can sometimes get the grumpy ones to smile.”

Heldenbrand calls herself a “tweaker” – in the baking realm. She will first follow the recipe as directed, then tweak it to fit her design.

“It’s trial by error in making things my own way. It’s fun.”

Heldenbrand’s personal time is spent enjoying time with her family – including bowling at midnight just for fun – and doing ceramics, of which she’s doing a lot of for Christmas.”

“I have been happy here every single day,” she said. “I want to retire from here, I just love this job.

“Janice McIntosh (director) is very good to her employees. We have a very good team together here. And I’m just and ordinary person who loves people.”

• Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at or 881-1223.