Jojo Ruiz

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Raised in California, it is no wonder that chef Jojo Ruiz took to the sea to develop his culinary talents. With an emphasis on sea to table, Chef Ruiz places extra emphasis on local and sustainable food at his restaurant Serea. Perhaps Ruiz's passion for food lies in what he loves about his career. "The best thing about my career is teaching cooks, servers, and diners to be excited about the food we’re blessed to eat. Cooking is a special way to connect with people, and I love how it brings together families, friends, and homes," explains Ruiz.

Q&A:

Hometown?

San Diego, California. Specifically, Chula Vista.

Place you call home now (neighborhood etc)

El Cerrito, San Diego.

Any notes on your education?

After finishing High School, I attended the San Diego Culinary Institute.

Favorite sport to watch?

Soccer, I love to watch The World Cup!

Favorite sport to play?

I enjoy playing soccer and boxing.

Best vacation ever?

My favorite vacation was a trip to Tulum, Mexico 5 years ago.

Dream trip destination. Why?

I dream of traveling to Japan, and exploring the entire country. There is so much culture and history I’d love to see.

Favorite dinner?

My favorite dinner in San Diego is at the Cantina Mayahuel on a Monday night. Nothing beats sitting down with my wife and indulging in their mezcal margaritas, a fresh shrimp cocktail, carnitas tacos, all topped off with a shot of Mezcal Layenda Durango.

Favorite dessert?

A tub of Chocolate Malted Crunch from Thrifty Ice Cream.

Underrated food?

Mackerel and Fresh Seaweed.

Dish you’re best at cooking?

Anything with seafood...duh! But in all seriousness, I think I’m best at cooking seafood over fire. I love barbecuing, and cooking over the fire while camping is one of my favorite things to do.

Best meal you've had at a restaurant?

The best meal I've had at a restaurant narrows down to either a noteworthy meal at a Spanish restaurant called La Vara in Brooklyn, NY or a phenomenal meal at a locally sourced Mexican restaurant called Hartwood in Tulum, Mexico

Road trip -- three in the car with you. Living or dead. Who are they? Why?

If I could be stuck in the car with three people on a road trip I would choose Jim Morrison, Anthony Bourdain, and Quinten Tarantino. All three would have so many amazing stories, there's no distance far enough that would allow for enough time to hear them all!

Favorite TV show as a kid.

Fresh Prince of Bel Air

Favorite movies?

Anything Martin Scorsese and The Godfather Trilogy

Favorite actress and or actor?

Robert De Niro

Favorite bands?

Deftones, The Doors, The Misfits, El Chicano

Most impressive live performance you ever saw.

Depeche Mode

Car you drive now.

2017 Black 4runner Limited

Car you’d like to drive?

I wouldn’t mind driving a G-Class Blacked Out Mercedes-Benz G Wagon.

Best car you've owned. Why?

The best car I’ve ever owned was a 1966 Chevy Caprice. My dad owned it and sold it when I was born. When I was 15, I bought the same car back, built it out, and worked on it myself — it was a great first car.

Motorcycle?

I just bought a 2003 Softail Heritage Classic 100th Anniversary. I’m excited to start a new project and work on the bike.

Wear a watch?

An old, beat up black Nixon

Got a favorite watch?

Not one I own

Got a dream watch? Why?

A 1969 Vintage Oyster Perpetual because they’re vintage, beautiful, and a great investment.

Summer drink of choice?

A Pacifico and shot of mezcal

Winter drink of choice?

A Pacifico and shot of mezcal

Bourbon or Scotch?

Mezcal?

Vodka or gin?

Tequila?

Cologne?

I wear Replica Jazz Club

Go-to red on a wine list?

Prisoner Napa

Go-to white?

Sancerre

Favorite beach?

I don’t get to the beach much, but when I do go I love Ocean Beach. We love to go to People’s Market for lunch and then enjoy a day in OB.

On a Saturday, your favorite errand to run is:

I work Saturdays

Otherwise, you’ll be busy doing what?

Working lunch service at Serea and dinner service at Lionfish.

Best work advice you ever got?

The best advice I've ever received was to put my head down, get the job done, and then get noticed for my hard work.

Best thing about your career?

The best thing about my career is teaching cooks, servers, and diners to be excited about the food we’re blessed to eat. Cooking is a special way to connect with people, and I love how it brings together families, friends, and homes.

What do you do now for work? Tell us something about your work and career path.

I am a Chef who prioritizes local and sustainable seafood. I’ve been lucky to work side-by-side with phenomenal leaders, restaurateurs, and operators who have helped me shape my own career. I’ve seen several restaurants built from the ground up — it’s amazing to see and dream, design, and restaurant concept become a reality.

What does luxury mean to you?

To me, luxury means comfort and hospitality. With luxury comes a high quality of craftsmanship and high quality experience.

Got a philosophy to live by?

Shoot for the stars, and at the very least, you’ll hit the top of a mountain!

Do you have any philanthropic interests/endeavors?

Something I'm interested in being involved in is teaching people how to cook. There are so many families who don’t have the necessary knowledge or resources to cook, so they eat out seven days a week. I want to show people that cooking can be easy, cheap, and healthy. Schools have stopped offering home economics classes, and many parents don’t cook themselves or have time to show their children how to cook for themselves. I was lucky to have a mother and grandmother that taught me how to cook, but not everyone is as fortunate as I was. I would love to aid in teaching the next generation of people to cook for themselves, as it is something that can bring so much joy, health, and flavor to life.

Add anything else about yourself here that you would like the world to know about you?

I love my family, cooking, laughing, yoga, boxing, and motorcycles.