Rather than end his last day of work with a simple handshake and goodbye, Steven Lease wanted to leave his colleagues with a lasting and tasty impression.
Lease baked 700 cookies in an assortment of flavors, distributed them around work, which at the time was Intel, and said his good-byes in 2008.
Lease realized baking could be a way of giving back to the community — and now the Morgan Stanley financial advisor and Auburn resident makes cookies, for free, and sends them to community groups, including those in Nevada County, for fundraisers or bake sales.
“My philosophy is, ‘Live every day to the fullest, build relationships for tomorrow and help others without expectation of anything in return,’” said Lease, an Eagle Scout who has been involved in Boy Scouts since first grade.
Along with the values developed from the Scouts, Lease also attributes his ideals to his family, as his dad was a Rotarian and his mom was active at school and involved in the Parent Teacher Association.
Lease also learned the art of baking from his mom.
Lease has donated cookies for the Rotary Club, Soroptimists, Veterans Day parades, middle school band concerts, theater performances and bake sales.
“I get requests for those and then I just bake them myself and take them around to local businesses as a way of getting to know people,” said Lease, who has baked 22,236 cookies as of Oct. 16.
He creates a bit of an assembly line when he bakes large orders, he said, where the oven is ready, each batch bakes for about 13 minutes, and the next is popped into the oven, in a process that goes on for hours. The largest batch he has ever made at one time was 1,000, he said.
“Once I get my assembly line going, my ovens hold about 50 cookies that are coming out every 12-13 minutes, and I just keep going,” he said.
Lease has not only gained baking experience from the countless cookies he’s created but also has used his experience as an electrical engineer and the help of his wife, who is a mechanical engineer.
“We kept asking ourselves, ‘Why are they flat? Why round?’ and improved the process,” he said.
The cookies can be ordered in an assortment of chip flavors, including chocolate mint, toffee, caramel, regular and dark and peppermint.
Lease estimates that his costs have totaled about $10,000.
“I try not to pay attention to it,” Lease said. “It’s just a little here and there.”
To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4230.