CHEF / OWNER
John has hospitality in his blood and beer on his mind. He was born in New Orleans and has lived in Georgia, California, Arizona, and Florida. John has called Tampa his home for over 30 years, drawing much of his inspiration from life in West Tampa, Ybor City and around the Bay area. A passion for bringing people together through food run deep in him. His southern mother and Sicilian grandmother passed their love for food down 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 Latin 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 and teaching cooking classes at local stores and markets.
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 and events 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.” To date, John has designed menus for events with breweries the likes of Cigar City Brewing, Cigar City Cider and Mead, 7vneth Sun Brewing, Coppertail Brewing Company, Late Start Brewery, Hidden Springs Brewery, Green Bench Brewing, Garagiste Meadery, Angry Chair Brewing, Cycle Brewing, 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 when he teams up with local breweries and business all over the Tampa Bay area. On the third Sunday of every month, hungry regulars and foodies can be seen lining up to enjoy a beer-inspired brunch 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