Little Italy's Ironside Fish & Oyster Assembles All-Star Culinary Team

March 4, 2014

In partnership with Executive Chef Jason McLeod, CH Projects, the San Diego hospitality group behind such projects as Craft & Commerce, Polite Provisions and the Neighborhood, continues the momentum behind their much anticipated Little Italy concept, Ironside Fish & Oyster, by announcing two new exciting powerhouse chefs to their culinary team - Chef de Cuisine Jose "JoJo" Ruiz (Searsucker, Herringbone, The Oceanaire Seafood Room, Tower 23) and Pastry Chef, Donna Antaloczy (Gordon Ramsay at the London New York, Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery, La Jolla Grand Colonial Hotel’s Nine-Ten Restaurant, Rancho Valencia’s Veladora & Pony Bar Restaurant)

Both chefs bring a layered background of top-tier dining experience and innovative culinary techniques to the table. Ruiz spent a decade working in a handful of San Diego’s premier sushi and raw bars, and Antaloczy’s substantial knowledge of breads and pastries stems from her time spent at Bouchon Bakery, working under arguably one of the most respected chef/restaurateurs in America, Michelin Star mogul Thomas Keller. Donna sums up both her and JoJo’s sentiments about this opportunity to work with Chef McLeod and the CH Projects team quite simply - "This is one of those opportunities you just don't pass up."

Ironside Fish & Oyster is part of a $1.8 million build out poised to land in the heart of Little Italy at 1654 India Street in early April of 2014. A raw bar, bakery and restaurant all-in-one, Ironside will be the first culinary-focused, chef-driven addition to CH Projects’ cocktail-heavy repertoire, making this the eighth concept in the collective’s roster.

Jose "JoJo" Ruiz joins Ironside Fish & Oyster as Chef de Cuisine. The San Diego native began his culinary career as a sushi chef at a handful of local restaurants, including Yokozunas, where he learned the art of butchering fish and meat. Displaying incredible talent at a young age, JoJo was on a quick path to success, as he began working as a sushi chef at JRDN Hotel's Tower 23 in 2007, then The Oceanaire Seafood Room as a sous chef in 2008, before stepping up as Chef de Cuisine of Brian Malarkey's widely successful Searsucker in downtown San Diego in 2010. As Brian's right-hand man, JoJo moved on to become the Executive Chef of Enlightened Hospitality's Herringbone in La Jolla in May of 2013, further enhancing his experience with coastal cuisine.

His passion and love for seafood is evident through his cooking. “I learned how to butcher a fish before I could properly cut vegetables,” says JoJo. “I’m most excited to be working with a dedicated raw bar again -- crudos, spot prawns, oysters, you name it. There’s nothing better than sea urchin with a nice piece of fresh bread, sea salt and some good quality EVOO, it's like the bone marrow of the sea.”

“I've worked with some fantastic chefs and staged in some great restaurants, and it’s really the local chefs here in San Diego who inspire me. I feel like this generation of San Diego chefs is getting better and better, and we’re all pushing each other in a positive way," Chef JoJo explained on the new move to Ironside. "I'm very grateful to have the opportunity to work with Chef Jason McLeod – with everywhere he's been and everything he's seen and done his discipline will guide me to be an even better chef.”

Pastry Chef Donna Antaloczy has cultivated a career as lively and expansive as the bread she bakes.  Having gathered invaluable "Old World" knowledge about the art of baking at acclaimed kitchens throughout the country, Antaloczy now brings her considerable culinary talents to Ironside Fish & Oyster.  Antaloczy's bread program will weave its distinctive, high-quality ingredients into all aspects of the menu, offering up items ranging from fresh hearth loaves, porridge breads, brioche and lobster rolls to the pastries served during brunch.  Ironside's impressive in-house bakery will serve as one of three open-air culinary stations within the restaurant.

Native to San Diego, Antaloczy has accrued years of hard-earned kitchen time, both locally (Grand Colonial Hotel’s Nine-Ten, Rancho Bernardo Inn) and at respected restaurants on both coasts. Boasting an impressive resume of stage experience throughout the U.S., Donna has spent time in the kitchens of multiple Michelin starred restaurants such as Chef Daniel Humm’s Eleven Madison Park (New York) and Christophe Eme’s former Ortolan Restaurant (Los Angeles), also holding professional positions at Thomas Keller’s renowned Bouchon Bakery and the London New York, where she honed her skills under the eye of award winning Chef Gordon Ramsay.  In 2012, upon her return to San Diego, Donna was quickly tapped as head bread baker for Rancho Santa Fe’s Rancho Valencia, where she led an outstanding bread program for Veladora and Pony Bar restaurants for two years.  Most recently, Antaloczy trained under famed head baker Avery Ruzicka and pastry chef Stephanie Prida, who’ve propelled David Kinch’s four-starred Manresa (Los Gatos) and its “Manresa Bread Project” to celebrity status. 

Chef Antaloczy’s bread and pastry program at Ironside Fish & Oyster is the culmination of a 10+ years of dedication to her craft and an exciting reflection of the passion she has for the entire culinary experience. “I want our guests to taste the old world-style breads that I have fallen in love with over the years,” says Donna. “With bread you’re constantly learning. It’s alive, and you have to understand how to cultivate it. The reason that all of us do what we do is for the love of the job. We’re passionate about sharing it with other people.”

Ironside Fish & Oyster opens to the public on April 16. For more information on, follow on Facebook.