Ritz's Banyan Tree Shakes It's Branches: New Looks and a New Chef

Ritz's Banyan Tree Shakes It's Branches: New Looks and a New Chef

One of Hawaii's hottest rising chefs, Jojo Vasquez, quietly left his post at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua's Banyan Tree at the beginning of this summer. The Filippino-born, Chicago native earned the Banyan Tree the prestigious AAA Four Diamond Award for his innovative blend of Pacific Rim cuisine blended with European flare and a touch of molecular gastronomy. Where will he end up?

"I love Hawaii, and don't plan on leaving any time soon," the thirty-something culinary whiz told B on Hawaii in an exclusive interview. And while Vasquez asked that we keep his soon-to-be-announced (you'll hear it here first) project hush, he hasn't been able to stay completely out of the limelight. Vasquez, who has cooked aside legendary Iron Chef (and founding Nobu chef) Masaharu Morimoto, has been spotted on Morimoto's team during a recently televised Iron Chef competition.

We'll leave it there for now–but keep your eyes glued to B on Hawaii in coming months for news on Jojo's reemergence on the Hawai'i culinary scene. It's bound to be a sizeable splash—on whichever shoreline he surfaces.

In the meantime, feel free to pick up the summer issue of Modern Luxury Hawaii, where B on Hawaii publisher Brian Berusch inked a glowing review of Banyan Tree prior to Vasquez's departure. It tells the tale of his culinary chops and dining room savoir faire.

It was announced this week that chef Ryan Urig has been named the new chef de cuisine at the Ritz's Banyan Tree. Urig has been with the Ritz Carlton company since 2003, having worked prior at the Arizona Biltmore, before heading to Kapalua. During the resort's six-month closure last year, Urig hopped the pond to Portugal, where he honed his skills at the Ritz-Carlton, Penha Longha. Heading up their fine dining restaurant, AssaMassa, Urig was sure to pick up some Portuguese and western European flare—look for it seeping in to signature Banyan Tree dishes shortly.

The Banyan Tree also announced a new, $55 (per person) three-course Sunset Menu available from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. In addition, "Wine Wednesdays" allows patrons to partake in 50 percent off all bottles of wine offered at the restaurant.

Visit www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/KapaluaMaui for more information.

Vasquez, who has cooked aside legendary Iron Chef (and founding Nobu chef) Masaharu Morimoto, has been spotted on Morimoto's team during a recently televised Iron Chef competition.