Rock-star chef interviewed for PBS series

Published 02.18.2022

Alumni News
Baking & Culinary
Business, Arts & Sciences

The Penn College graduate serves up hope (in addition to an always-appealing menu).Penn College culinary arts and systems graduate Rob Wood, '17, executive chef for JBJ Soul Kitchen, was among those interviewed for an episode of “To Dine For With Kate Sullivan” that aired recently on PBS. The public-television series, in its fourth season, features stories of creators and dreamers who have reached uncommon success through ingenuity and innovation. Their favorite restaurant becomes the backdrop for conversation about life, success and what it takes to achieve the “American dream."

Wood stands in the warm and welcoming dining room at JBJ Soul Kitchen, surrounded by reminders of the restaurant's open-hearted calling.In this case, Sullivan conversed with rock legend Jon Bon Jovi and his wife, Dorothea, at JBJ Soul Kitchen, a nonprofit community kitchen they founded, where they were served three dishes prepared by Wood.

JBJ Soul Kitchen – with three modern farm-to-table bistros in central New Jersey – serves paying and in-need customers side-by-side.

“A lot of times you go to a restaurant, you’re feeding just the body,” Wood explained on-camera. “Here we’re doing so much more. We’re also feeding the soul – hence, Soul Kitchen.”

Wood has been executive chef for the Toms River location of the volunteer-powered restaurant group since 2018. He is pursuing a Master of Business Administration in hospitality, with the goal of someday teaching future culinarians.

“Just because the bill is modest, that doesn’t mean the menu isn’t high quality and healthy,” host Sullivan said of the menu.

“You’re more concerned about what you’re putting out because the people who are eating it, most of the time, this might be the only meal they get of the day. So you want it to be memorable. You want to make sure they want to come back,” Wood explained.

The restaurant and its alumnus chef were also profiled in "Making a Difference With Every Dish," in the Spring 2020 issue of Penn College Magazine.