Rising Star Chef Travis Swikard of Boulud Sud - Biography

New York, NY

February 2015

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 into the air, and a culinary passion was ignited.

His childhood was far more food-oreinted than most, with a young Swikard getting Daniel Boulud cookbooks for Christmas and cooking alongside his father while his sisters and brothers played outside. Taking his first job running a sushi bar at just 15, Swikard was more than ready for high school career week: approaching Island Prime Chef Deborah Scott, Swikard turned a one-week stage into a four-year job at his first high-end restaurant.  

Swikard immersed himself in the San Diego food scene—even encountering future mentor Gavin Kaysen at a local culinary competition—before enrolling in the New England Culinary Institute. New England led to England, where Swikard joined Phil Thompson’s team at Auberge du Lac and made a pivotal connection between cooking and leading. The lesson served him well when he returned stateside in 2008. Swikard swiftly worked his way up the line after Gavin Kaysen brought him on to the team at Café Boulud. By the time Boulud was opening Boulud Sud, Swikard was hand-picked to be executive sous chef, finally becoming executive chef—and fulfilling a long-burning childhood dream—in November 2013. A StarChefs Rising Star Chef Award soon followed in 2015, honoring Swikard's work at the restaurant.