RCBC culinary arts alum becomes executive chef of Valenzano’s Bari Wine Pub
Monday, Nov 22, 2021

Matthew Pedano

For Rowan College at Burlington County alum Matthew Pedano, like many others, it made the most financial sense to attend college locally and to start at community college. What he didn’t realize, however, was the tremendous return on investment he’d gain after graduating. 

“My entire experience was exceptional,” Pedano shared. “I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I got the same education through RCBC that I would have if I went to Johnson and Wales or the Culinary Institute of America. From the cost and financial standpoint, the Culinary Center in Mount Holly really delivers and got me to where I wanted to be.”

Pedano, who graduated in 2016, is now executive chef at Valenzano Winery’s Bari Wine Pub, a new American restaurant offering a casual dining experience. He’s previously dabbled in catering, pop-up restaurants and has worked for several Philadelphia restaurateurs, including acclaimed chef Marc Vetri. Pedano used his extensive knowledge to develop the menu at Bari, which changes every six months to suit the seasons and features items highlighting Valenzano’s wines through reductions, demi glaces and beurre blancs. It also offers wine pairings for each menu item. Offerings include thick cut glazed bacon with a Shamong Red glaze, fish tacos with citrus crema and steak accompagne de risotto with a piquillo pepper emulsion. 

“RCBC gave me a proper foundation for getting out into the real world and feeling confident instead of going in blindly to the industry,” Pedano said. “I truly feel as though RCBC gave me that backbone for getting out there.”

When asked about his inspiration, Pedano, of Shamong Township, shared that his current favorite cuisines are Mexican and Asian. 

“I love the bold flavors of each cuisine,” Pedano said. “At Bari, we do gastropub style, and I aim to elevate both traditional and non-traditional dishes. Changing the menu every six months also keeps me on my toes.”

As for his advice for aspiring chefs, Pedano says to stay dedicated and pursue your passion relentlessly. 

“I’ve always kind of lived by staying dedicated, and if you really have a passion for the industry or food in general, stand by it and keep working at it every single day,” Pedano said. “I love food, and because of that, I just kept at it. Even through school, I continued to work and dabble in various scenes, absorbing everything like a sponge and finding my niche.”

Bari Wine Pub is open Thursday through Sunday. To learn more and to book a reservation, visit valenzanowine.com/bari-wine-pub. To learn more about RCBC’s culinary programs, visit rcbc.edu/culinary.