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PYSK: John LaRocca

PYSK: John LaRocca

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General Manager, University Club & Catering

AGE: 50

KEY RESPONSIBILITIES: Manage a team of professionals who run the University Club dining room and banquets and University Catering.

YEARS LIVED IN COLUMBIA: Just moved back to Columbia this month. We lived here in the late ‘70s while my wife and I were attending Mizzou.

ORIGINAL HOMETOWN: St. Louis

EDUCATION: University of Missouri-Columbia and University of Missouri-St. Louis.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Board member of L’École Culinaire culinary school, member of the Missouri Restaurant Association, board member of SHARE (a national group that provides support for families who have lost children).

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: Spent 16 years with Marriott International, seven years in the independent restaurant arena and six years in private clubs.

LAST BOOK I READ: The Painted House by John Grisham

WHEN I WAS A CHILD, I WANTED TO GROW UP TO BE: Involved in the food industry in some capacity.

HOW I CHOSE THIS CAREER: My father owned a small Italian restaurant in St. Louis. We all grew up washing dishes and cleaning the bar. I learned a lot about business and life from my father.

MY BEST ADVICE TO SOMEONE IN THIS FIELD: Have your eyes wide open. The hours are long, the work is physical, and you are constantly on stage. But the rewards can be great.

HOBBIES, INTERESTS: Vegetable gardening, cooking, boating

FAVORITE WAY TO SPEND A SATURDAY MORNING: Read the paper and work in the yard with my wife.

ACCOMPLISHMENT I’M MOST PROUD OF: Getting this job. I wanted it very badly and did a lot of homework before I interviewed. It paid off.

MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW THAT: I was a spelling bee champ in grade school. Incorrect spelling is a pet peeve of mine.

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