San Diego native Travis Swikard can remember the moment he knew he would be a chef: just 4 years old, he watched his father deglaze a pan with Cognac. Flames erupted, and a culinary passion was ignited.
Growing up amidst the farms of “North County” and close to the ocean, Swikard became obsessed with the culinary riches of the San Diego area early on, and started working in restaurants at just 15. His first job - meant to be a one-week stage at downtown San Diego restaurant Kemo Sabe - turned into a four-year run, as well as his introduction to his eventual business partners; but not before 10+ years on the East Coast.
In 2005, Swikard enrolled in the New England Culinary Institute, and traded SoCal for the Northeast. New England led to England, where Swikard joined Chef Phil Thompson’s team at Auberge du Lac and made a pivotal connection between fine cuisine and leadership. The lesson served him well when he returned stateside and joined Chef Gavin Kaysen’s team at French chef Daniel Boulud’s Michelin-starred Café Boulud, where he swiftly worked his way up the line. When Boulud was opening Boulud Sud - his bustling French-Mediterranean restaurant across from Lincoln Center - Swikard was hand-picked to be Executive Sous Chef, and the Executive Chef role followed soon after. He went on to head three of Boulud’s seven NYC restaurants as Culinary Director.
After more than a decade in NYC, in 2019 Swikard made the move home - now with a family of his own - to begin work on his first solo restaurant. Callie, a Mediterranean-inspired, California-inflected restaurant, will open in San Diego in early 2020.
Callie is Chef Travis Swikard’s California-Mediterranean restaurant, opening Spring 2020 in San Diego’s East Village neighborhood.
Callie will put the farmers, fisherman, and incredible ingredients of the greater San Diego region at the forefront, and blend them with a Mediterranean palette. Swikard, a Santee native, fell for the flavors of Greece, Spain, Italy, Morocco, the Middle East, and every place along the Mediterranean coastline during his time at Boulud Sud, but his love for these cuisines comes second only to his love for his hometown terroir. At Callie, the two will come together to create light, bright, and bold flavors. Cuisine du soleil.
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