TV personality makes Kitchen Table donation


ROCHELLE – When many people hear the name Mike Rowe they might first think of the celebrity’s hit television show Dirty Jobs, where he travels across the country and demonstrates the most disgusting jobs people do for a living.

But Rowe might now be better known to Rochelle area residents for his generous donation to Rochelle’s very own The Kitchen Table, operated by Carolyn and Grant Brown and other volunteer board members.

Rowe produces a new internet series titled “Returning the Favor,” in which he searches for stories of organizations and people who put others in the community before themselves.

Local non-profit organization The Kitchen Table was selected a few months ago to be featured on an upcoming episode in the fourth season of the series which will air on July 22 through Facebook Watch.

“The Kitchen Table recently received both the attention and a $50,000 donation from celebrity Mike Rowe as a part of his new internet streaming series,” said Mark Schwendau, kitchen table board member, in a press release.

Lois Piller a board member of The Kitchen Table nominated the organization and the Browns to be featured on the show without anyone else’s knowledge. In early March, a crew was sent from the show to interview diners and board members without anyone knowing why they were doing so. Following the interviews, the next step was to send Rowe and his crew to officially film the episode and lend a hand.

“On March 21, Rowe brought his film crew to shoot a new episode of his show, he interviewed the Browns and even pitched in by helping work at The Kitchen Table,” added Schwendau.

While the help from Rowe and being featured on the show will likely bring awareness to the organization, it is the $50,000 donation that will help the café serve the most people possible. 

“Rowe’s $50,000 donation will be used towards an expansion project to build a new dining hall at the community café, located at 7034 Klondike Road,” explained Schwendau.

The Browns, who reside in Ashton, envisioned a restaurant such as The Kitchen Table years before they eventually purchased the property in 2013 and opened for business in 2016. The café serves about 10 meals a month where diners are asked to pay what they can afford. Those who are unable to pay are offered the opportunity to volunteer their time in exchange for their meal.

The café remains operational thanks to individuals who dine and then pay it forward along with donations and grants received from individuals and corporations.

For more information on dining and volunteering, visit or visit the restaurant’s Facebook page.