A PORTION-CONTROLLED SIDE OF ZEET

zeet-peabody-1Zeet Peabody, executive chef at the new JBJ Soul Kitchen, which features crisp design inside and a vegetable and herb garden out front. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

soul-kitchen1The star power at Wednesday’s opening of the JBJ Soul Kitchen in Red Bank belonged, of course, to the restaurant’s main sponsor, Jon Bon Jovi.

But while the the telegenic pop star may continue to volunteer his time washing dishes at the Monmouth Street pay-what-you-can eatery, patrons will be on intimate terms with Zeet Peabody, the restaurant’s executive chef.

Along with his kitchen crew and wait staff, he’s the one who’ll be there most of the time. More importantly, he’s be the one who’ll decide what goes onto the plates, and how those dishes will elevate the eatery to destination status.

After all, this is “not a soup kitchen,” Bon Jovi said at the opening. With its knife-sharp appearance, it doesn’t look like one. And the people behind it don’t want it to function as a dole for the down-and-out. The goal, they emphasized, is to make it a restaurant for all, no matter what’s in the customer’s wallet.

So amid the hubbub of the opening, redbankgreen isolated Peabody – who’s been a personal chef and consultant since closing his Bistro Zeeto in Atlantic Highlands a decade ago – for a few minutes to get his input. Here’s our quickie interview.

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BON JOVI TO ROCK OUT FOR PARKER CLINIC

bon-joviMiddletown property owner Jon Bon Jovi has scheduled an “intimate,” $250-a-seat concert next month to raise money for Red Bank’s Parker Family Medical Center.

News of the benefit appeared yesterday on the website of the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, the venue that will host the January 27 show.

The venue’s website says the tickets go on sale today at 10a, but the tour page at Bon Jovi’s website says the show is sold out.

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RED BANK’S DISGRACE GOES NATIONAL

The ugly spectacle of hecklers shouting down a woman in a wheelchair in Red Bank last week is getting national play.

Last night, Keith Olbermann of MSNBC’s Countdown played a portion of the video Brian Donohue shot for his online Star-Ledger feature, Ledger Live, during the August 26 town hall meeting held by sixth-district Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. at the Red Bank Middle School.

The topic: national health insurance.

“If somebody were to parody the truly ugly behavior at some of these healthcare town halls, it might read like this,” Olbermann says in setting up the video.

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SLEDGER TOWN HALL VIDEO

Here’s Star-Ledger video reporter Andre Malok’s takeaway from Tuesday night’s town hall meeting of federal healthcare reform, held at the Red Bank Middle School.

An Asbury Park Press video is here.

If you missed it, here’s the redbankgreen article.

HOSTILE CROWD SHOUTS DOWN PALLONE

img_1265-2With the auditorium inside already packed, a crowd of more than 1,000 people snaked around the front yard of the Red Bank Middle School awaiting its turn inside. Three consecutive seatings were required to accommodate the turnout, with the final session beginning at around 10:30p.

Some came to yell ‘Get a job’ at their congressman. One came to ask him if he was a communist. Another spent $14 on a cab ride from Middletown to declare her own candidacy for his seat, on the platform of “if everybody gave up meat and chicken, people wouldn’t get sick.”

In the aggregate, most of the 1,300 people who swamped Tuesday night’s forum on a proposed federal health insurance plan came to vent their anger over the plan’s expense and expected impact on their continued access to quality medical services.

Through it all, sixth-district Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., a Democrat, stood his ground on the auditorium stage at the Red Bank Middle School, unwavering in his defense of the plan.

“I don’t believe that the majority are opposed to this,” he said, speaking of his own constituents, prompting one of many cascades of boos heard over the course of three seatings.

img_1515-2Attendees pro and con on health insurance reform tried to out-sing each other on ‘God Bless America’ prior to the start of the second session.
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