Executive Chef of Clique Hospitality Lionfish
With JoJo Ruiz as one of the innovators leading the restaurant scene in San Diego, Lionfish, the highly coveted Clique Hospitality Coastal Cuisine restaurant at Pendry, just became an official James Beard Certified Smart Catch Leader as of February 2019. Only two of San Diego’s restaurants joined this accolade, which can be accredited to the hard work of Executive Chef Jose “JoJo” Ruiz.
A San Diego native, Chef Jose “JoJo” Ruiz, began his culinary career when he was 16 as a dishwasher at Yokozuna. From there, he quickly elevated from a dishwasher to line cook. While attending San Diego Culinary Institute full-time, he learned the art of butchering fish and meat at Yokozuna, which started his lifelong affair with seafood. Displaying incredible talent at a young age, Chef JoJo was on the fast track to success. Before leading the kitchen as the Chef de Cuisine at Searsucker, he also began working as a sushi chef at JRDN Hotel’s Tower 23 in 2007. Because of his dedication and commitment to the food and beverage industry, he became the sous chef at The Oceanaire Seafood Room in 2008 as well. During this time, JoJo also staged at different restaurants throughout the country and honed his craft. He further enhanced his career in coastal cuisine and became the Executive Chef of Enlightened Hospitality’s Herringbone in La Jolla in May of 2013. Prior to joining Clique Hospitality, Chef JoJo spent two and a half years as the right hand of Michelin-starred Chef and Partner Jason McLeod at Little Italy’s acclaimed Ironside Fish & Oyster. He unrivaled dedication to his craft earned him a spot on Eater National’s top 50 “Young Guns” list.
In 2017 Ruiz partnered with Andy Masi’s Clique Hospitality, as the Executive Chef at Lionfish Modern Coastal Cuisine at Pendry San Diego.
Lionfish helmed by Ruiz in partnership with Masi, opened in February 2017, allowing chef to bring his incredible talent in sushi, seafood and coastal cuisine to the airy two-floor dining room located in the heart of San Diego’s Gaslamp.
As a technique-driven eatery, Lionfish sets itself apart from other restaurants in San Diego, showcasing careful precision that elevates each dish for the diner. JoJo even goes to the docks daily to purchase fresh fish for the day.
Chef JoJo is inspired by ingredients of the season, so the Lionfish menu change seasonally to reflect such, which is a unique and special element of Ruiz’s motif. Ruiz prides himself with a San Diego-inspired menu where modern coastal cuisine is highlighted and continues to re-energize the downtown food scene through his elevated menu. He brings local and sustainable products from the sea to the table and emphasises the importance of using responsibly sourced items.
Chef continues to dedicate his creativity and passion to the restaurant industry. He continues to revolution the San Diego foodie scene with his artistic and impressive culinary techniques seen at Lionfish.
In addition to Lionfish, Chef JoJo opened a second restaurant summer 2019 as Chef partner at the Hotel Del in Coronado, called Serēa focused around sustainable seafood.