Meet The Chef
Chef Jojo Vasquez cooks with reverence to culture, seasons and locality. His beautifully composed cuisine sings with keen flavors, simplicity and balance, and serves as a profound reflection of his diverse cultural influences.
As a kid in Chicago, Chef Jojo Vasquez discovered his passion and learned to prepare foods from his Filipino heritage while helping at his father Leoncio’s catering company. Shortly after culinary school, he started his career with Chef Steven Chiapetti. Vasquez worked at Chiapetti’s restaurants including Rhapsody at the Chicago Symphony Center. He later moved to Atlanta to work at Fusebox with Chef Troy Thompson. Los Angeles was next, where Thompson brought him into The Ritz-Carlton fold to open Jer-ne restaurant in Marina del Rey, Calif. That eventually led Vasquez to Kapalua, Maui, in 2005, where he helmed the Banyan Tree Restaurant’s fine-dining kitchen into modernist times.
But Vasquez wasn’t done learning from the finest of mentors. When famed Chef Masaharu Morimoto tasked him to spearhead the opening of his namesake restaurant in Waikiki and assist the team in Napa, Calif., he sharpened his skills and palate for Japanese cuisine while adding a few notable television credits to his belt battling alongside Morimoto in the Iron Chef stadium for two seasons on the Food Network.
In 2013, Vasquez moved on to lead the Plantation House Restaurant atop Kapalua’s Plantation Golf Course. His eloquence on the plate, dedication to the craft and mentorship of Maui’s young culinarians garnered him the coveted vote from his chef peers as the 2017 Chef of the Year during the ‘Aipono Awards, a benefit gala for the University of Hawaii Maui College’s culinary program by Maui Nō Ka ‘Oi magazine. On May 2018, Vasquez began another chapter as the chef de cuisine and partner for Maui Brewing Co.’s brewery and restaurant in Kihei. Vasquez’s ethos aligned with the company’s dedication to sustainability.
As a seasoned veteran in the industry, Vasquez is no stranger to high-profile and high-pressure culinary endeavors from cooking at the James Beard House, the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen or even training a Russian culinary team to cook Japanese cuisine in Moscow. He considers this moment his most exciting opportunity yet. When the space for FOND presented itself in Napili Plaza, Vasquez took the leap of faith to open the eatery on May 2019. Vasquez and the FOND team looks forward to creating a stellar, culturally inspired and fun dining experience for the Maui community.
“Best Chef of the Year 2017” Maui No Ka ‘Oi Magazine
“Rising Star” Star Chefs Hawaii 2012
“Best Restaurant in Maui” Maui No Ka Oi Magazine 2005-2006
AAA 4 Diamond hotel, Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, HI
“Sous Chef of the Year” Southern California Food Writers Association, 2003
“Best Fusion Restaurant” Los Angeles Magazine, 2003
Four Diamond Restaurant Award AAA (American Automobile Associations 2002-2005
Rated Mobile Four Star Restaurant in 2000 through 2004, Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey, CA
HOSTED EVENTS & ARTICLES
Hosted Events and Articles
HILuxury Magazine “Plantation House Rock,” December 2017
Pebble Beach Food & Wine, April 2010
Gastronomy Week, Moscow, Russia, February 2010 and November 2008
Maui No Ka Oi “Kitchen Chemistry,” Summer 2008
Hawaii Modern Luxury “The Banyan Treat,” Summer 2008
Dom Perignon Champagne dinner, New Years 2006
Grgich Hills Wine dinner, October 2005
Krug Champagne dinner, June 2005
Chaine des Rotisseurs dinner, September 2005
“Chefs of the West Live” Benefit for the James Beard Foundation Centennial Celebration, October 2004
Jer-ne Restaurant + Bar in Hall of Fame for Los Angeles Magazine, August 2004
Audrey Magazine “Man of all Seasons,” August 2004
Second Annual Umami Dinner “Umami of Tofu” Friends of James Beard Benefit, July 2004
Participated in Aspen Classic for Food & Wine Magazine, 2003, 2004 and 2008
Opening Team for Ritz Carlton Hotel South Beach, Florida, December 2003
Umami Dinner featuring the talents of Japanese Chefs, James Beard Benefit, April 2003
Dinner at the James Beard House, Executive Chef Troy Thompson, November 2002
Art Culinaire Magazine, Sous Chef Jojo Vasquez, Issue 66, Fall 2002
FOND. What is Fond you might ask? Fond is an adjective that translates to having an affection or a liking for something or someone. Fond is also a culinary term and French for base, referring to the browned bits and drippings of meat and vegetables that are stuck to the bottom of a pan. It is the most flavorful part that a cook deglazes to make a wonderful stock, sauce or gravy. It is the dark matter that gives soul and depth to a dish. Fond is also an acronym that stands for Feeding Our Neighborhood Daily.
Our cuisine is diverse and ever-evolving with influences from Chef Jojo's Filipino upbringing in a Greek neighborhood, a classic culinary education in French technique, a cooking career heavy with Japanese and New American flair, time spent in Atlanta, Georgia learning Southern cuisine and, finally, his move to Hawaii in 2005, where history, cultures and traditions beautifully mix on a plate.
Though our cuisine is almost impossible to categorize, what stays true is the love, thoughtfulness and integrity with which our food is created, our devotion to local ingredients, and our FONDness of serving and nourishing our community and island guests. We hope to feed you soon!