Chef Ruiz’s Seafood Program and Commitment to
Sustainable Seafood at Gaslamp’s Lionfish and
Earns Him Smart Catch Seal
Chef Jose “JoJo” Ruiz has again been recognized as a James Beard Foundation Smart Catch Leader, this time for the newly-opened Serẽa, making it the only restaurant on Coronado Island to receive this recognition.
Chef Ruiz was also recognized by the prestigious culinary foundation for the second time as a Smart Catch Leader for Lionfish, making both restaurants the only two in San Diego to receive the recognition.
Serẽa, located at the historic Hotel del Coronado, and the Gaslamp District’s Lionfish — both of which are helmed by Partner/Chef Ruiz — were recognized due to their commitment to sustainable seafood and menu diversity.
Fewer than 20 of California’s estimated 76,000 restaurants are recognized by Smart Catch. “We were committed to sustainable sourcing when we opened both Lionfish and Serẽa, not for the accolades, but because it was right,” Chef Ruiz said. “I grew up in San Diego. The ocean is a part of who I am. There was never a question that my menus wouldn’t be focused on sustainability. To be recognized twice as a Smart Catch Leader is humbling, but to able to do my part to make sure future generations have sustainable food sources is even better.”
In order to be recognized by James Beard Foundation, restaurant menus must meet or exceed 80 percent sustainability, and restaurants must submit to three assessments per year. Further, “red” items , or seafood that is overfished or caught or farmed in ways that harm other marine life, can only appear twice on menus and must total 8 percent volume or less.
As one of the country’s most prominent culinary institutions, the James Beard Foundation’s Smart Catch is a program created by chefs for chefs with the purpose of increasing the sustainability of the seafood supply chain. Serẽa and Lionfish are two of three restaurants in the San Diego area to have earned this Smart Catch Leader recognition.
Opened in February 2017 from Clique Hospitality, Lionfish quickly became one of the leading restaurant innovators in San Diego. At Lionfish, Chef Ruiz showcases his talent in sushi, seafood and coastal cuisine at the bustling Fifth Avenue hotspot at Pendry San Diego. As a technique-driven eatery, Lionfish sets itself apart from other restaurants in the city, showcasing careful precision that elevates each dish for the diner. Chef Ruiz prides himself with a seasonal San Diego-inspired menu of modern coastal cuisine serving fresh sustainable seafood.
Serēa, opened in summer 2019, takes its inspiration from the sea, serving sustainable dishes while diners overlook the scenic Pacific Ocean. While breathing in fresh sea air, diners partake in Chef Ruiz’s fresh-catch cooking done in a simple, elegant manner for the ultimate sea-to-table experience. The approachable cuisine prepared by Chef Ruiz and his team features seasonal ingredients grown by Southern California farmers, ensuring top quality. Serẽa’s ocean-friendly menu is robust with fresh seafood and a raw bar.
About the James Beard Foundation
For more than 30 years, the James Beard Foundation has championed chefs and other culinary professionals while highlighting the centrality of food culture in our daily lives. Through the James Beard Awards, unique dining experiences at the James Beard House and around the country, scholarships, hands-on learning, and a variety of industry programs that educate and empower leaders in our community, the Foundation has built a platform for chefs and asserted the power of gastronomy to drive behavior, culture, and policy change around food. To that end the Foundation has also created signature impact-oriented initiatives that include our Women’s Leadership Programs aimed at addressing the gender imbalance in the culinary industry; advocacy training through our Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change; and the James Beard Foundation Leadership Awards that shine a spotlight on successful change makers. The organization is committed to giving chefs and their colleagues a voice and the tools they need to make the world more sustainable, equitable, and delicious for everyone.
Opened in 2017, Lionfish is as social as the bustling neighborhood that surrounds it. Located in the Pendry San Diego in the city’s trendy Gaslamp Quarter sits Lionfish, the dynamic, design-driven hotspot on 5th Avenue that honors the essence of the city’s lifestyle. The restaurant offers modern coastal cuisine that features fresh-catch cooking and seasonal ingredients, all prepared with innovative twists. The menu, featuring both sustainable seafood and prime meats, toys with guest’s tastebuds with its casual, yet complex offerings. The light, fresh appetizers are perfect for sharing. A private dining area is available for a more intimate experience. A lively, yet elegant environment within the two-level space, Lionfish is not only a culinary destination, but it’s also a home for hand-crafted cocktails, all of which are carefully prepared by high-end mixologists in the restaurant’s rambunctious bar.
Serẽa, opened in summer 2019, is a sea-to-table concept by Clique Hospitality created for Hotel del Coronado . This unique collaboration between the ever-evolving seaside resort and the trend-setting hospitality company brings an innovative sea-to-table experience to The Del that sets a new tone for the iconic property. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the soothing rhythm of the crashing waves, the indoor-outdoor restaurant features elegant, fresh-catch coastal cuisine with a hint of Mediterranean flair. Recognized by James Beard Foundation as a Smart Catch Leader for his efforts in sustainable seafood, Executive Chef JoJo Ruiz has created a menu of thoughtfully crafted seafood dishes, featuring the highest quality seasonal, responsibly raised and sourced ingredients from the region’s oceans, farms and fields—from the California Coast down to the Baja Peninsula. Serẽa also features a lively outdoor bar that offers hand-crafted cocktails, local brews and a comprehensive wine list.