John has hospitality in his blood and beer on his mind. He was born in New Orleans and had a rich cultural upbringing living in Georgia, California, Arizona, and Florida. John has called Tampa his home for over twenty-five years, drawing much of his inspiration from life in the Bay Area. He has been cooking since he was old enough to roll dough in his mother’s kitchen and a passion for bringing people together through food run deep in him. His southern mother and Sicilian grandmother passed their love for food down to him and showed him
how to make magic with chef’s tools. John’s father operated the historic Elmwood Plantation restaurant of New Orleans and entertained famous stars such as Dean Martin, Buzz Aldrin, and Jesse Owens. His uncle has owned numerous bars and restaurants around the Big Guava including Brother’s Lounge, a key cog in the ’80’s jazz
club scene. Spending over fifteen years in the restaurant, catering, and bar industry enabled John to hone his culinary knowledge and skill. John’s understanding of classic French and fusion techniques took root at Tampa’s Mise en Place Bistro. The next stage in John’s journey found him catering private parties, developing menus, creating food label descriptions, teaching cooking classes, and collaborating on flavor treatment profiles for beer.
His menu consists of four well thought out courses that, will on occasion, have an infusion of a particular beer. John has a gift for showcasing specialty items and products and integrating them harmoniously into innovative dishes.
–Charlee Crawford, Tampa Bay Moms Blog
In 2009, John needed a creative outlet for his cooking and founded LOKO Cuisine. Working full time as a special education teacher, John felt that owning a restaurant or food truck was not feasible. Instead, John sought to create food with local craft beer and teamed up with Tampa breweries to imagine and create beer-infused meals that showcase his food and Tampa’s distinctive beers. With a unique name stemming from the union of John and his wife’s last name, LoScalzo and Kojima, LOKO Cuisine wrote its origin story. The company’s philosophy is a simple one: “Beer and food go hand in hand. I feel that beer is an underrated ingredient in the kitchen and has such a complexity of flavors and styles that it can shine in any meal for any occasion. I truly enjoy collaborating with breweries to create a total integrated dining experience.” To date, John has designed menus for events with breweries the likes of Cigar City Brewing, Cigar City Cider & Mead, Angry Chair Brewing, Coppertail Brewing Company, Late Start Brewery, Stone Brewing, New Belgium Brewing, Founders Brewing, Funky Buddha Brewing, Bell’s Brewing, Highland Brewing and Yuengling Brewery.
The best place to see John in action is at his monthly Eggs & Kegs brunch at Cigar City Brewing. After tasting John’s wares, Cigar City owner Joey Redner was thrilled to schedule a regular LOKO Cuisine event at the brewery. On the third Sunday of every month, hungry regulars and foodies can be seen lining up at 11am sharp to enjoy a beer hall atmosphere of hearty beer-inspired food and a pint of local brew. John designs a thoughtfully theme menu for each brunch and piles on the flavors and the good times. John’s continuing mission to create extraordinary craft beer meals goes on, as he organizes lunch and dinner events with local breweries and businesses so guest can experience new flavors and pairings.
The most impressive aspect of a LOKO Cuisine Eggs & Kegs event is how seamlessly LoScalzo melds the tastes of beer and food together. From his Good Gourd Pumpkin Ale Barbecue Sauce to his Maduro Brown Ale Turkey Gravy, John’s talent truly lies in making one think that these two flavors should have been together all along.
–Mark DeNote, FloridaBeerNews.com