John Rivers — Director

Founder and CEO, 4R Restaurant Group

Restaurant entrepreneur and head chef of the award-winning 4 Rivers Smokehouse, John Rivers spent two decades traveling the country honing his taste and talent for BBQ. The Jacksonville native and Florida State University business grad ended a 20-year career in healthcare as president of a billion-dollar company to pursue a passion for helping children through his garage-based Barbecue Ministry — a bold switch fueled by faith and supported by family.

With ten restaurant locations throughout Florida and plans for continued expansion, John has received national recognition, having cooked at the James Beard House in NYC and participated four consecutive years in the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Other renowned publications, including USA Today, Cooking Light, Food & Wine, and Paula Deen Magazine have also featured Rivers and the growing 4R brand.

John’s latest restaurant concept, The COOP, has quickly become a neighborhood favorite, with its fresh take on Southern comfort foods. He recently published his first book, The Southern Cowboy Cookbook, serves on numerous charity and school boards, and lives in Winter Park, Florida with his wife and two children.