Rising Star Chef Jojo Vasquez of The Plantation House - Biography

Kapalua, HI

October 2012

2012 Hawaii Rising Star Chef Jojo Vasquez is no stranger to the limelight. A former Morimoto sous chef (and later chef de cuisine), he was one of the chef's assistants for two seasons of “Iron Chef America.”

But it wasn’t always bright lights for Vasquez. It was food. Growing up in Chicago, Vasquez began his culinary sojourn as his father’s “mini sous,” helping with the family’s Chinese-Filipino catering business. After a quick detour through physical therapy training, Vasquez enrolled in the culinary program at Kendall College in Evanston, Illinois, eventually graduating with a culinary degree. Vasquez then took a line cook job at Rhapsody at the Chicago Symphony Center. He later worked alongside Troy Thompson in Atlanta’s Fusebox, and in 2000 moved to Los Angeles to help open the Jer-ne restaurant as sous chef to Thompson.

In 2005, he earned the title of chef de cuisine at Banyan Tree at the Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua, though he left a few years later to join Morimoto’s team as executive chef at Morimoto Waikiki. Vasquez returned to Banyan Tree in 2010, bringing with him his refined approach to cooking, which included notes of molecular gastronomy from his tours of Spain and France, a love of pan-Asian flavors, and his desire to further refine Hawaiian cuisine. In late 2012 he joined The Plantation House as executive chef.