Profile: LeRoy Hollingshed
As the holiday season nears, employees at the State Fountain Bakery work hard to bake the Thanksgiving goodies Golden Triangle residents anticipate — pumpkin pies, sweet potato pies and pecan pies.
One employee has been baking at Mississippi State since 1971: baker LeRoy Hollingshed even tried to retire after about 30 years, but the Fountain family just couldn't let him go.
"They asked me to come back. I had missed it, but I didn't want to come back full time. Now, I just come whenever they need me — mostly for game days," he said.
Not only does Hollingshed love working at State Fountain Bakery, his favorite place to be on campus, he loves being a baker and creating foods people enjoy.
"Satisfying the people makes me feel really good," he said. "When somebody comes in and says, 'It tastes good,' and I could have a hand in making it, it makes me feel good to say, 'Yes, I made that.'"
His favorite sweets to bake include both a Thanksgiving favorite, pumpkin pie, and a Christmas dessert, fruitcake.
"I just like to make a pumpkin pie, and what I like to make best, I just like to make fruitcake. I get to make it at that certain time of year, and I like to make them because I don't make them regularly," Hollingshed said.
Smelling the prepared fruit for the fruitcake after it's soaked overnight in rum flavoring really gets Hollingshed into the holiday spirit, he said.
Over the years, Hollingshed has had his share of memorable, innovative moments, but his favorite memory, he said, was the instance when he figured out how to make a tasty chocolate chess pie.
"The manager went away somewhere, and we couldn't get the chocolate chess pie right, so I said, 'We've got good tasting chess pie; just add a little chocolate to it, and we'll have chocolate chess pie.' So I tried it, and we've been making it that way ever since," Hollingshed said.
Overall, Hollingshed emphasized his favorite thing about Mississippi State is the people. From the customers he serves to the State Fountain Bakery management, Hollingshed said the people at the university lift him up.
"The overhead people are so nice, they make you want to work. They make you want to make stuff to the best of your ability. It's just the people," he said.
Hollingshed's presence at the university has begun a tradition in his own family: his daughter, Annie Hollingshed, is Aramark's catering manager; his nephew, James Hollingshed, is Aramark's multi-unit supervisor; and his nieces, Tricia and Tasha Hollingshed, are Burger King supervisor and Starbucks cashier, respectively.
However, the Hollingshed campus connection even goes beyond a family of chefs. His son, Leroy Hollingshed Jr., is a research associate II at MSU's Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems; his niece, Cathy Hollingshed, is an administrative assistant I at the university's Early Childhood Institute; and his niece, Bertha Hollingshed, is a reservationist at event services.
Hollingshed and his family will be providing their culinary expertise and working for the people of Mississippi State for years to come, he said.Writer: Leah Barbour | Photo: Beth Wynn
Next week … Bobby Tomlinson !