By SUNNY LOCKWOOD
She may have been born and raised in San Francisco, but Ann DeLara says she's always been a "country girl."
So moving to Calaveras County from Sunnyvale three years ago did not require major adjustments.
"I like the slower pace," she said. "And I like the fact that people know each other here."
After being food service director at hospitals, restaurants, corporate dining rooms and nursing homes in the Bay Area, she came to Calaveras County to become food service director for Vallecito Union, Bret Harte Union High and Calaveras school districts.
With a staff of three, she plans menus and orders food for about 5,000 students in the county. From hamburgers and chicken wraps to veggie sandwiches and Jose Ole burritos, she and her staff work to make nutritional meals appealing.
The tall, strawberry blonde with blue eyes says food has always been a big part of her life. "I was raised in this Italian family and there was always all this food around," she said.
She earned her bachelor's degree in dietetics from Cal Poly, and few years ago, she shed 90 pounds without dieting.
"I changed the way I eat," she said. "I have my big meal at noon and I do a lot of exercising."
DeLara has always been physically active. A certified scuba diver, she has hit the waters off the Great Barrier Reef, in the Caribbean and Hawaii. She has white-water rafted in New Zealand. And at one time, she taught water aerobics in the Bay Area.
But her exercise these days consists of walking her two golden Labs, Mellow and Biscuit, and her miniature horses.
"Between the horses and the dogs, I walk about six miles a day."
At 51, DeLara is something of a Renaissance woman. She reads a book a week, plays the piano, clarinet, guitar and banjo and is teaching herself the organ. But her newest passion is those pint-sized horses.
Weekly Arts and entertainment guide for Calaveras and Tuolumne counties