Why Our Chef is a Genius

Why Our Chef is a Genius

Why does the food taste so amazing at Serẽa Coastal Cuisine? Hint: it’s not just high quality ingredients. The true secret to our success? Our incredibly talented Chef JoJo Ruiz. 

Inspired. Creative. Masterful. These are just some of the words that have been used to describe Ruiz’s cooking. His unique approach combines global flavors with carefully chosen ingredients including sustainably caught seafood, responsibly sourced meats and poultry, and some of the best produce we can possibly find. 

Chef JoJo Ruiz has become one of the most respected Chefs in the San Diego region, and it’s not hard to see why. In this post, we’ll explore the story behind the culinary tour de force who heads up our kitchen! 

Chef Jojo Ruiz(Source: Serẽa Coastal Cuisine Facebook page)

Chef JoJo Ruiz’s Story 

Before he was Chef, JoJo Ruiz was just a kid with a job washing dishes. 

His culinary career started at the entry level: as dishwasher at Yokozuna’s. Over time, he was promoted to line cook, then sushi chef. This time was pivotal in his career, and taught him the art of preparing seafood in ways that preserved its integrity and natural flavor while also looking beautiful. 

He would continue on to positions as a sushi chef, sous chef, and executive chef at various esteemed establishments, including the role of Chef de Cuisine at Ironside Fish & Oyster, a Michelin-starred restaurant. 

Over the course of his career, Ruiz hasn’t just mastered the art of cooking. He’s also become a master innovator. He’s able to effortlessly combine flavors and cooking techniques from a variety of different cultures, making for a truly unique global experience every time you sample his work.

With a passion for sourcing the best ingredients and a continued drive to create new and interesting dishes, 

His ingenuity in the kitchen got him noticed by the Clique Hospitality Group, and in 2017, he helped launch Lionfish Modern Coastal Cuisine, one of the Gaslamp Quarter’s most sought-out seafood restaurants. 

The creative menu includes a modern approach to seafood, with creative flavors and some of the finest ingredients possible. 

Serẽa is truly the culmination of Ruiz’s work so far. The menu is truly unlike anything you’ve ever seen or tasted! 

Chef Jojo Seafood(Source: Serẽa Coastal Cuisine Facebook page)

Our Chef’s Cooking Style 

Chef JoJo Ruiz’s inimitable cooking style incorporates aspects of coastal cuisine and California cuisine. 

Not sure what those things mean? Let’s discuss. 

Coastal Cuisine 

Coastal cuisine is really more of a way of life. It’s a mentality toward seafood where less is more. It’s characterized by Chefs doing all they can to preserve the natural flavors of fresh fish and seafood.  

Usually, this means minimal processing and simple flavoring. After all, the idea is that when you’re using superior seafood, you don’t need to mess with it too much! Why mask a flavor that is already pure perfection? 

A commitment to fresh flavors is evident on our menu, with sections like the “Big Fish” section of the menu. 

On this menu section, you’ll be treated to the freshest catch — a freshly caught whole fish, sourced locally and responsibly. You can choose from two types of preparation: either get it grilled over an open fire, or flash fried and simply seasoned with olive oil, lemon, red wine vinegar, and sea salt. 

The fish is deboned tableside, and offers a truly unique experience that gives you a true taste of Southern California. 

California Cuisine 

The Golden State’s creative culinarys style is another big inspiration for Chef JoJo Ruiz.

California cuisine is a specific approach to food that focuses on fresh ingredients, simple preparation, and whenever possible, local and/or seasonal ingredients.

But California cuisine is also characterized by flavor inspirations and culinary techniques from around the globe. It’s not unusual for Chefs who cook in the California cuisine style to employ French cooking techniques, Middle Eastern spices, and local California ingredients — all in the same dish. 

Take, for example, the Crispy Saganaki from our Appetizer menu. Saganaki is a traditional Greek fried cheese appetizer; ours is served with tomato, South African peppadew peppers, bagna cauda (a Piedmontese anchovy dip), and lemon. 

Or consider our Ora King Salmon “Pistachiodine,” an elegant entree featuring salmon, grilled French beans, pistachio aillade (a classic French accompaniment), and yogurt spiced with sumac. 

Chef Jojo(Source: Serẽa Coastal Cuisine Facebook page)

Accolades and Awards 

The dining scene in Southern California is teeming with talented Chefs. As a diner, this is a great thing, because it means there’s plenty of great food no matter where you go. 

However, it means that to make a name for yourself as a Chef, you’ve got to be really, really good.

Chef JoJo Ruiz is very, very good. 

For example, did you know that there are more than 76,000 restaurants in California — but less than 20 have the honor of receiving the James Beard Foundations’ Smart Catch Award?

Not long ago, Chef JoJo Ruiz was awarded the prestigious award of being a Smart Catch Leader … not just for Serẽa, but for Lionfish in San Diego as well! 

This is far from the only award Ruiz has received during his time as a chef. He’s been featured in numerous articles, blogs, and other media outlets. 

Try Our Chef’s Incredible Work! 

Ready to sample Chef JoJo Ruiz’s work for yourself? Make a reservation at Serẽa Coastal Cuisine today! Whether you’re feasting on a meal of small plates like Charcoal Grilled Octopus, Zucchini & Eggplant Chips, and Grilled Lamb Ribs or living it up with a delicious entree like our 32oz Charcoal Grilled Angus T-Bone or one of our fresh catch options, you’re bound to be enchanted by his innovative approach to each and every dish. See for yourself what everyone’s raving about!

Have you tried Chef JoJo Ruiz’s cooking? What did you like best about it?