Award-winning chef Jojo Vasquez has joined the Maui Brewing Company’s Kihei restaurant and brewery. After 13 years in the Hawaiʻi food scene, Vasquez brings his passion for cuisine to the brewery with powerful flavors and sophisticated presentation, all while utilizing the finest local produce.
MBC anticipates a major summer influx with the arrival of Vasquez, who was voted Maui No Ka ‘Oi Magazine’s 2017 Chef of the Year by his peers. Vasquez has been a standout in the Hawai‘i food scene for more than 10 years, building his reputation as a purveyor of sustainable, artisanal cuisine which caught the eye of Maui Brewing Company. The newfound partnership will be an exciting opportunity to bring that sensibility to MBC’s pub scene.
“I do everything based on the integrity of the ingredients and an eclectic method that uses as much fiercely local, sustainable avenues as I have,” Vasquez said. Along with sustainability and locally sourced ingredients, the company’s dedication to artisan craftsmanship also goes hand-in-hand with his personal philosophy as a chef. “I want to make sure there’s craftsmanship in the touches and elegance in the plating,” he said. “I want to make sure people say ʻdamn, I need to come back because I didn’ʻt try the whole menu.'”
Vasquez is preparing an inspired direction for new menu items, utilizing MBC signature brews in fresh and exciting ways. He has already started experimenting with brews like his favorite, the Bikini Blonde Lager, using it to create a rich, savory broth with braised manila clams and lup cheong, complimented by shitaake and kale furikake. Another one of his favorites is a bright, summery brew that already has him dreaming of fresh dishes. “The limited edition I love is called Two Tickets to Paradise and is a tropical Saison with hibiscus and lime,” Vasquez said. “It really highlights the citrus on the palate, so for me thatʻs sashimi. I taste hamachi or beautiful kampachi or grilled kama with a little bit calamansi and maybe some peppery arugula.”
Vasquez is a Chicago native who found his culinary calling as a child, assisting his father with a family-run catering business serving Filipino, Chinese and American cuisine. He studied culinary arts at Kendall College’s Culinary Institute in Evanston, Illinois. He went on to develop his craft working with acclaimed chef Troy Thompson. Vasquez might best be known for working with Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, for whom Vasquez served as sous chef for two seasons on the hit show “Iron Chef”. Vasquez moved to Maui in 2004, where he thrived as chef de Cuisine for the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua Resort’s Banyan Tree Restaurant. He went on to open Morimoto Waikiki on Oahu as executive chef of the Morimoto team before returning to Maui to lead The Plantation House restaurant staff as executive chef.
Photo courtesy of Maui Brewing Company