Justin Klobucar

Klobucar has improved the physicians’ dining room.

Why Selected?

Klobucar was nominated by Mary Verona, R.D., when she was the director of food and nutrition services of the hospital. Verona is now the general manager with Sodexo at Balsz School District in Phoenix.

Verona says: Justin’s culinary talents have added greatly to our facilities. One area where he has really worked hard is in the physicians’ dining room. Our physician group represents several cultures. Justin has included various ethnic food selections into the physicians’ menu. What went over very well recently is when he encouraged one of the longtime Indian physicians to bring in a home recipe. Justin took the recipe and did exhibition cooking with the physician’s help.

Details

Executive Chef, Presence Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center, Chicago
Age: 29
Education: Associates degree from the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago
Years at organization: 4

Get to know

Q. What has been your proudest accomplishment?

During the past three years I’ve been chosen for national culinary competitions with AHF and Premier. They picked my recipe from about 60 submissions. I got to go to Arizona, Texas and Tennessee.  

Q. What would you say you excel at over more seasoned colleagues?

I like to do different things in the cafeteria. I like to bring in a lot of ethnic foods. We have a large Indian and Filipino population. 

Q. What's the best career advice you've been given?

Mary [Verona] told me to be consistent and always follow through. 

Q. What's been the biggest challenge you've had to overcome?

This has been my first time as a supervisor, so I’m learning all the roles a supervisor has. I’ve had to learn how to deal with people’s weaknesses, strengths and personalities. Another challenge is we’re also trying to train people to eat healthier. 

Q. What's been your most rewarding moment?

When I have something on the menu that I’ve put a lot of time in and, as I’m walking down the halls, I hear from people that they really like the item and they ask for the recipe. 

Q. What would you like to accomplish in your career in the next two years?

I want to be a director one day, so I’d like to get my bachelor’s degree. 

Q. What's been your funniest on-the-job disaster?

My first large function I undercut the amount of chicken breast that was needed. Everyone was chanting, “We want chicken,” so I had to run downstairs and try to find some chicken we could use. 

Q. What can you look back at now and laugh at?

When I started I wanted to have a pumpkin eating contest. I told my production coordinator to order the two largest pumpkins and not worry about what the price was. They ended up being 300 or 400 pounds and cost $800 apiece. My director called me in and she asked what was going on. Luckily she was laughing. 

Under 30

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
chefs

We started inviting chefs and FSDs from other districts to come prepare lunch. Through featuring different chefs and chef-inspired meals, I’ve found the students have been looking forward to coming into the cafeteria. They are willing to try new things with crazy names, and to ask for their favorite outside items turned healthy.

Ideas and Innovation
tapas

I’ve created a high school “focus group” to see what future college students will want in terms of foodservice. This year, I called up two now-seniors from the last group to get 10 of their friends together. I also include a sophomore or two so that I always have a contact for next year. Tapas, grain bowls and late-night breakfast all originated from this group.

Ideas and Innovation
making meals

This summer, we teamed up with a church to deliver meals to three housing projects. We brought the meals to the church, and then the church recruited volunteers to deliver the meals to the children. We’ve been very impressed with this new model, and it shows great promise in getting meals to children who otherwise would not be able to leave their housing project.

Industry News & Opinion
sharing love

Having never personally experienced a hurricane, I can only imagine the horrors faced by the millions of people whose lives were affected by Harvey and Irma in late August and early September. It’s a group that comprises uncounted noncommercial operations, including Houston Independent School District, which serves 215,000 students.

But from that tragedy has come one of the most impressive feats of foodservice I’ve seen since coming on board at this magazine, partially spearheaded by Nutrition Officer Betti Wiggins , who only just joined the district. For the entire school year,...

FSD Resources