SHOP PENN Get to Know: KPod's Chef Peter Serpico

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SHOP PENN is more than a destination for an eclectic mix of shops and restaurants set in a uniquely beautiful university setting, but also includes a dynamic group of owners and operators who pour their heart and soul into these businesses. In this new series, we will be introducing you to an active member of the SHOP PENN family through our Q&A spotlight.

Chef Peter Serpico is the mind behind new Shop Penn sensation KPod, a restaurant that serves a delectable fusion of Korean dishes with an American flair. When he isn’t in the kitchen, Chef Serpico is a family man who relishes his time with his daughter. We talked to him about his family, his culinary path, and how he came up with the concept behind KPod.

Q) How did you get started and what was the path like to where you are now?

My entire career has been dedicated to working at restaurants. I started from the bottom, washing dishes, and worked my way into cooking. I attended Culinary School in Baltimore, and cooked many different cuisines at lots of different restaurants of all calibers – from casual pizza and bar & grille, to higher-end faire.

Q) How did you come up with the concept and menu for KPod?

At the start of the pandemic, I worked with Stephen Starr to open Pete’s Place, one of Philly’s first ghost kitchens that served Korean-American cuisine – food that reflected my family’s Korean heritage combined with American elements and influence. Pete’s Place proved to be very successful, and the U.S. seemed to really grow to embrace Korean cuisine, music and culture. It felt like a natural fit to bring this style of Korean American food to Philadelphia on a larger scale, and the former POD restaurant space in University City was the perfect setting.

Q) What motivates you to do what you do?

The people around me – and happy guests.

Q) What do you find to be the most rewarding part of your job?

Being able to share time with my daughter but also be working. To be able to be a dad and a husband while working in my industry is its own reward.

The most challenging?

Post-pandemic challenges have proven difficult to overcome. I still have my high expectations, but limited resources can be a challenge as we navigate our way through rebuilding our industry.

Q) Do you have any key mentors or people who have deeply influenced you?

My dad is my biggest inspiration. He took a completely different path in life, and his objective wisdom and advice has really taught me to navigate my own path in life and to not be afraid of taking a different approach.  

My friend Sandeep is another key mentor in my life. Though in a very different industry, as a doctor, we experience similar professional struggles, and I respect his advice and appreciate his friendship.

Q) How would people in your life describe you?

Completely Reasonable. Approachable, I hope.

Stubborn, probably.

Q) What is your proudest accomplishment?

Charlie, my daughter. She’s a ray of sunshine, and she’s always so happy and incredibly smart.

Q) What is your favorite thing about Philadelphia?

Its livability and diversity.

Lightning Round
Favorite Day of the Week: Any day I can spend with Charlie, my daughter
Childhood Nickname: Pete, Petey, My dad called me Pedro
Last Song You Downloaded: I don’t download songs
Go To Guilty Pleasure Food: Fast food… Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Burger King
SHOP PENN Business You Frequent (Besides Your Own): Federal Donuts
Favorite Thing to Do In Free Time: Fishing with Charlie
Early Riser or Night Owl: Both.
Favorite Holiday: Thanksgiving. I get to spend time with my extended family!
Music or Podcast: Podcasts. Currently in my buds: “All In”