Food TV

Local boy makes good (reality TV)

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on


Lots of people at the International Culinary School of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Downtown, will be watching at 8 p.m. Sunday when one of their own, graduate Craig Jones, competes on a reality-TV show to win a food-court restaurant.

Mr. Jones is a Johnstown guy who earned his bachelor of science degree in culinary management in 2007 at AIP, is a contestant on the new Food Network series Food Court Wars, on which Tyler Florence goes around the country to "help aspiring entrepreneurs realize their lifelong dreams of opening their own restaurant," according to a news release.

It describes Mr. Jones' portion of this weekend's episode as the story of him and Jonathan Neely, who became "fast friends working on the line at a restaurant chain; during these long shifts the two connected over memories of favorite sandwiches of their childhood and the hope of being their own boss one day. Local taste buds will be challenged during a Great Lakes minor-league baseball game with a surprise guest appearance by a baseball legend. One team will ultimately knock it out of the park winning their own food court restaurant in Midland, Mich."

That's where Mr. Jones is now, says AIP spokeswoman Carrie Butler, who remembers Mr. Jones for his signature, espresso-infused "Craig's Jones'en" barbecue sauce, which was sold at the school and still can be found at other outlets in Pittsburgh, Johnstown and beyond. "Everyone at AIP will be tuned in and rooting for him!"

She shared an email from school president George Sebolt sent out to the community, in which he explains that Mr. Jones attended AIP with his twin, Corey. Then he moved on to Detroit to work for a Wolfgang Puck restaurant and later worked as a chef at the MGM Grand Detroit.

Mr. Sebolt noted that the twins worked together with fellow AIP grad Jamie Coven and Mr. Neely to come up with the concept they're taking on the show -- Chip’nWich, "built on the idea that potato chips are even better on sandwiches than alongside them. ... The chefs pair gourmet potato-chip flavors, tossed in their house-made seasonings made with fresh herbs from local farmers, with house-made ingredients," including the barbecue sauce.

On Sunday's episode, “Oasis vs. Chip-n-Wich,” the boys compete against a Middle Eastern concept to try to win space in the food court.

As Mr. Sebolt notes, you'll have to watch "to find out what’s going to happen next in the culinary career of Craig Jones."

Food Network photo

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.

Food Video