Chef’s colorful history contributes to Chef Wars win

Biola Chef Wars winner, John Rose, shares how his fascinating past with curious Biola students.


John Buchanan

Sophomore Geoffrey Knopf, junior Matt Gugel, and freshman Brian Lee decide on who to vote for. | John Buchanan/THE CHIMES

Nicole Foy, Writer

Sophomore Geoffrey Knopf, junior Matt Gugel, and freshman Brian Lee decide on who to vote for. | John Buchanan/THE CHIMES

At a university where almost every professor, staff member and student has an interesting backstory, “Chef Wars” winner and Bon Appétit Biola executive chef John Rose’s surprising history stands among the greatest.

Because he grew up helping in the family pub and restaurant in Bradford — a city in Yorkshire, England — Rose likes to say that he was born into the food business. However, Rose didn’t rely only on his experience in the family restaurant for his culinary training; instead, he decided to join the Merchant Marines as an assistant chef.

“By the time I was 20, I had completed three circumferences of the globe,” Rose said.

Some of his most memorable experiences include cooking for movie stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, who frequently sailed on Rose’s ship.

Chicken and waffles wins the war

After a quick glance at Rose’s stunning resume, which includes nine years on staff with Bon Appétit, one would correctly assume that Rose’s repertoire is likely overflowing with exotic foods. Anyone who didn’t attend Thursday night’s Chef Wars in the Cafeteria would wonder just which culinary marvel helped Rose beat out his competitors from other universities the SoCal area.

It was chicken and waffles, actually.

Chicken and waffles might seem like a strange choice — especially in comparison to what the other chefs brought to the table, like the Spicy Ahi Tuna dish Executive Chef Anthony Behcomo of Vanguard University presented. However, instead of choosing to wow with elaborate delicacies, Rose and his staff decided to focus specifically on what the students wanted to eat.

“We kind of researched a little bit, made sure that we were giving different stuff … that was not on the menu everyday,” Rose said. “Why [chicken and waffles] is popular I will never know.”

Rose’s appeal to popular opinion paid off, both in competition results and student feedback. Sophomore Molly Folkert, a math major, was excited that the chefs were paying closer attention to what students actually wanted; fifth-year biblical studies major David Lonzanida enjoyed the chance to try something different from standard Caf food.

A personalized dining experience

Although Rose may no longer serve food to movie stars, he still tries to give Biolans the five-star treatment. He doesn’t restrict this attention to competitions like Chef Wars. Since he started working at Biola last February, he has made a point to interact with students daily and form relationships in order to encourage feedback and student involvement.

“I try to walk around as much as I can during lunch, and some [students] know me now and say hello,” Rose said. “I welcome people to let me know if there is anything we can do to improve the service.”

Rose believes that his main priority as the executive chef is to meet students’ needs to the best of his staff’s ability. This means reading and considering every request, even the unusual ones.

“We do everything we can to accommodate everybody,” Rose said. “We are here to please and we want to make people happy.”

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