Meet a Chef: Leigh Ann Bozung

leigh ann bozung posing in a chef's uniform in a commercial kitchenChild Nutrition Supervisor
Healdsburg Unified School District, Healdsburg, CA

Second Place Winner of the 2020 CAN DO Challenge

What is your background in foodservice?

My experience in foodservice started when I was 14, at a frozen custard shop in Indiana. But where my career really started to take shape was at a mom and pop bagel shop/café. I was asked to fill in for a week, while the baker was out, to be in charge of the bagel production. That was the beginning of the turning point for my career in foodservice. I continued to work in foodservice while I completed my Bachelor of Arts degree in Graphic Design and Music.

Shortly after I graduated, I enrolled at Ivy Tech Community College, where I earned my Associate of Applied Science, Culinary Administration degree. Then, I did my internship in San Francisco. My comfort level with baking/pastry helped me land my first job at the Marriott in Tucson, AZ. After that, I transferred to a Marriott in San Diego where I worked for almost four years before I landed my first K-12 position.

Why did you decide to transition from working in hospitality to K-12?
I was getting burned out on the hospitality work schedule, and I applied to work at Lakeside Union School District where a scratch baking program had just been approved. So, I got my nights and weekends back, had the summers off, and developed their scratch baking program. My boss encouraged me to pursue the School Nutrition Specialist credential, which I received just before the pandemic. There were a lot of changes and that is what led me to my current job at Healdsburg Unified School District. I enjoy the challenges of working in a management role at a smaller school district, and I’ve also been able to work with the community to coordinate a food hub.

How many meals does your school district serve daily?
We produce meals for 600 students at breakfast and 800 to 850 at lunch. There are four schools in the district and we also provide meals for two local K-6 schools that are outside of our district. All of our district sites cook on-site, and we deliver meals to the K-6 schools. There are 15 staff members on my team.

What is the back story about your recipe for Pear Hand Pies?
When I was at Lakeside Union School District my boss encouraged me to enter a contest, and in 2019 I was one of the FSD Rising Stars, so that made it easier for me to enter your CAN DO Challenge contest. I put my baking skills to work in 2020. We needed to replace our chocolate cake with a smaller dessert item that would be easy to place on the tray. After working on several items, we settled on the Pear Hand Pie, which was efficient to produce and students loved the cinnamon pear filling.

How do you use canned pears on your current menu?
We use them on the salad bar. I’d like to use them in a savory application, and we’d like to add more salads to our menu.

Where do you find inspiration for developing new menu items and updating what’s currently being offered?
I get a lot of ideas from exhibitors at the shows that I attend, as well as organizations like The Institute of Child Nutrition. Vendors also send recipes they’ve developed. I’m always looking for recipes and concepts that are feasible for high-volume production. We build our menus around what students want to eat, along with new menu items for our students to try.

What’s your favorite way to eat canned pears?
Spinach salad with goat cheese, blueberries, pears, and walnut balsamic dressing.