Titusville’s Dorothy Kunde “catered” to some special people in her career, namely shuttle astronauts who blasted off to space. She prepared warm meals before the astronauts would head out on dangerous, but exciting, missions.
“She just loved doing it, and the astronauts were her family,” her daughter Lacy Chodorowski says. “She’d say to me, ‘It’s like my kids.’ ”
For more than 25 years, Kunde cooked for shuttle astronauts before they left Earth and when they returned to the Kennedy Space Center after missions.
Kunde passed away last December at the age of 95. Her family is holding an estate sale at her home, including cookbooks she compiled with recipes she prepared for the astronauts.
Her daughter tells us her mother answered an ad back in the late 1970s, got the job, and got to cooking for the hundreds of men and women who soared to space.
“I asked her who her favorites were, and she wouldn’t tell me,” Chodorowski says. “She said she loved them all.”
Kunde’s tasty dishes and treats are compiled in cookbooks, as her reputation garnered her the nickname “Chef to the Astronauts.”
“She was ready 24/7, on call all the time for them,” says Jean Wright, a retired shuttle program worker who has much in common with Kunde.
Wright is a baker and honors her mentor by replicating the chef’s delicious chocolate chip cookies. She bought some of Kunde’s cookbooks at the sale.
“I think it’s like the mother in you, you always want to take care of your kids,” Wright says.
Part of that caring included meticulously cleaning the food, plates, and utensils to ensure quarantining astronauts would not be exposed to germs.
“Things were neat and clean,” Chodorowski says. “She didn’t want anyone to get sick.”
For Chodorowski, the sadness in losing her mom is overshadowed by knowing her legacy of caring through full bellies will live on, on the Space Coast.
“She’s looking down at all of this, and she’s happy,” Chodorowski says.
Kunde often cooked meals at the North Brevard Senior Center in Titusville. The group is naming its kitchen after her in her honor.