About LOKOMeet the chef.
CHEF / OWNER
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, and Arizona. John has called Tampa his home for over thirty 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. The next stage in John’s journey found him catering small private parties, developing menus for local businesses, producing label descriptions for food based companies, 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 edible artwork so he 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 craft breweries to imagine and create beer-infused meals that showcase John’s talents 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 pairs easily with just about any dish or cuisine. I truly appreciate collaborating with breweries because they get excited about pairing beer with food and I love pairing food with beer, which creates 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, The Wild Rover Pub & Brewery, Late Start Brewery, Stone Brewing, Highland Brewing, Founders Brewing, Bell’s Brewing, and Yuengling Brewery (to name a few).
The best place to see John in action is at his monthly Eggs & Kegs event 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 Spruce Street 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 breakfast and a pint of local brew. John designs a different beer theme and menu for each breakfast and piles on the flavors and the good times.
John’s continuing mission to create extraordinary craft beer meals goes on, and he organizes and cooks for beer events with various local breweries and businesses every few months. These events range from a Stone Crab Stout Boil to a family style dinner called The Loft Supper to a brunch for International Bacon Day. John endeavors to show that craft beer can shine in any meal for any occasion.
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