Shamong Township native Matthew Pedano has been named executive chef at Valenzano Winery’s new casual restaurant, Bari Wine Pub, a goal he reached by recalling his high school experience with the culinary arts and his time at the former Burlington County College.
Pedano attended Seneca High School, where his interest in cooking was influenced by food and nutrition classes.
“I think that’s really where the seed was planted, back in high school,” he said
One of Pedano’s teachers at Seneca was Lynne Ritter, who asked him in his senior year if he wanted to experience a competition at Walnut Hill College, a culinary school in Philadelphia. He didn’t end up placing at the event, but describes it as memorable.
At the county community college — now known as Rowan College at Burlington County — Pedano’s interest in being a chef was piqued by the school’s culinary center, where he sharpened some of his skills and earned a letter of recommendation from instructor and chef James Brudnicki.
“He was super thorough about every single class that he taught and really delivered when it came to each individual student,” Pedano noted “So that kind of stood out to me, and I thought that was really exceptional,”
Pedano graduated in 2016, the same year he began working at Valenzano’s. He also has experience with catering, pop-up restaurants and working for Philadelphia restaurateurs, including the acclaimed chef Marc Vetri.
Last fall, Valenzano CEO Anthony “Tony” Valenzano reached out to Pedano about a new concept restaurant he eventually called Bari Wine Pub, where Pedano is now in charge of the kitchen.
Pedano’s menu for the Shamong eatery is described as new American, with traditional and nontraditional items in a casual setting for lunch and dinner. He and his sous chef produce new, seasonal dishes every six months, in spring and summer and again in fall and winter.
Pedano would tell anyone interested in the culinary arts to pursue their passion and stay on track.
“One thing that I always stand by is, especially with something that you’re very attracted to or interested in … to (stay) dedicated and always trying to stay inspired,” he noted.
“Pursue something that you want to do for the rest of your life.”