Photos courtesy of LOKO Cuisine
I first met John LoScalzo during his inaugural Eggs & Kegs brunch at Cigar City Brewing during the 2013 Tampa Bay Beer Week. The delicious beer-infused feasts soon became a monthly event, drawing sold-out crowds of hungry craft-beer fans to the Tampa brewery’s tasting room on the third Sunday of the month (the schedule shifts during TBBW).
LoScalzo kindly took the time to answer a few questions about Eggs & Kegs – which marks the start of its third year on March 8 during this year’s Tampa Bay Beer Week – how his company, LOKO Cuisine, has integrated itself in the local craft-beer community, and what’s ahead.
Beer in Florida: How did LOKO Cuisine start?
John LoScalzo: LOKO Cuisine started out of my love for food, cooking, and supporting local businesses. As a full-time special education teacher, I knew it was nearly impossible to add a full-time cooking gig to my plate. Then I had an idea to create dinners and events at unique local businesses featuring their products and my cooking.
BiF: At what point did you decide to make craft beer part of the equation?
JL: In 2009, after having a few beers at Cigar City Brewing I was like “HOLY SHIT!”
These beers were so bold and flavorful that I had to cook with them. The same day, I approached Cigar City Brewing’s owner and founder Joey Redner and pitched him my business idea. He was immediately receptive and interested in my concept and has been 100 percent supportive ever since. I truly owe a massive part of my success to Joey’s constant support and tremendous generosity. Working with CCB has opened so many doors and allowed LOKO Cuisine to find its niche in the craft beer world.
BiF: What are some examples of the craft breweries and local craft beer venues and events with which LOKO has worked?
JL: Of course LOKO Cuisine’s most popular event is the once a month Eggs & Kegs brunch hosted at Cigar City Brewing.
LOKO Cuisine also hosts public dinners every three to four months and some private events with craft breweries and venues that support craft beer such as Cigar City Cider & Mead, Angry Chair Brewing, Green Bench, Late Start Brewing, The Wild Rover Brewery, Brewer’s Tasting Room, Croxbone Brewing, J. Wakefield Brewing, Highland Brewery, Bells Brewery, New Belgium Brewing, Yuengling Brewing, WOB, Motorworks Brewing, Florida Avenue Brewing, Rock Brothers Brewing, Inkwood Books, Hideaway Cafe, Felicitous Tea & Coffee Shop, and Buddy Brew Coffee.
BiF: How did Eggs & Kegs at Cigar City Brewing come about?
JL: It started when Cigar City Brewing wanted to plan a collaboration brunch during the 2013 Tampa Bay Beer Week. We threw around some names and Eggs & Kegs stuck. The first Eggs & Kegs was such a hit that it became a once-a-month event.
BiF: What can people expect at the Eggs & Kegs on March 8 during the year’s Tampa Bay Beer Week?
JL: The first thing they can expect is for it to sell out! This third installment of Eggs & Kegs during TBBW is a collaboration with Cigar City Brewing, New Belgium Brewing, and LOKO Cuisine. It features a hearty French- and Belgian-inspired four-course menu and includes your first pour of beer or cider in a kickass New Belgium tulip glass that’s yours to keep. Plus there will be some solid CCB and NB beers on tap including the Lips of Faith series Cigar City and New Belgium collaborative ale brewed with Anaheim and Marash peppers and New Belgium’s Oscar Worthy wood-aged sour brown ale with coffee.
BiF: What can we expect from LOKO Cuisine in the upcoming year, and beyond?
JL: LOKO Cuisine plans to continue the monthly Eggs & Kegs at Cigar City every third Sunday (except during TBBW) and quarterly dinners. Who knows, we may even throw in a few smaller unique pop-ups dinners. As always you can expect laid-back events where people can enjoy local craft beer, creative and bold craft-beer infused food, and good company!
Thanks to John LoScalzo for taking the time to discuss his company and his contributions to the local craft-beer community. For more information or to purchase admission to the March 8 Eggs & Kegs brunch, click here.