Written by Annie Harmon
Photos by Annie Harmon
Few pastry chefs can hold a candle to the number of culinary awards that Don Holtzer has garnered.
Because his father owned a doughnut shop, Holtzer was long used to bakeries by the time he started his career at 18.
“I did it because I wanted to meet girls,” Holtzer said, laughing. “That was the reason I started.”
Later, Holtzer realized that it was more than a way to meet women, and began to truly love the art of baking and pastry making.
“Someone put you on the face of the earth to do something,” he said, “and baking is for me.”
If his bubbly, warm personality isn’t enough to make chef Holtzer instantly likable, he also is a highly decorated pastry chef. He’s appeared on many different cooking and baking challenges such as the $50,000 Baking Challenge on Food Network. Also, Bon Appétit named him as one of the Top 30 pastry chefs in the U.S. and in 2013 ACF HSCA awarded him Pastry Chef of the Year.
“I learned how to judge people and learned from the best, that’s what made me successful,” Holtzer said. “I would learn who the judges were before a competition and base my dishes on that.”
Holtzer took over Franz’s Backstube Austrian Bakery in West Reno after Franz retired in 2010.
Despite the fact that his bakery is known for its beautiful wedding cakes, Holtzer’s favorite pastry is much humbler. Light, fluffy, and perfect for any occasion, Holtzer said a nice biscuit is his favorite item to bake.
“I like baking everything,” Holtzer explained, “but a good biscuit is awesome.”
“The key to great baking is passion,” Holtzer says. “It’s passion, and I love what I do. What makes me the happiest is putting a smile on peoples’ faces when I make something that they love.”
When he retires, Holtzer mentioned that he wants to become a teacher to give back to the community and mentor young culinary students.
“You can’t just take,” he explained, “you need to give back as well.”
When asked what he would tell his students, Holtzer said, “It’s your heart not your head. Don’t go for the money because the money will come.”
Holtzer’s renowned bakery, Franz’s Backstube, is located at 3882 Mayberry Landing in Reno. For details, visit franzsbackstube.biz.