Born in Winter Park FL, 30-something Chef Travis Vaughn comes to Rare Steakhouse and his profession honestly. Two weeks after graduating from High School, Travis was enrolled at the Florida Culinary Institute in West Palm Beach, following in the footsteps of his mother’s thirty-five year career. She was General Manager of a seafood restaurant in Orlando where Travis got his start washing dishes and learning the craft at an early age. “After getting kicked out of summer school when I was fourteen, I learned that I loved working in the kitchen and hated washing dishes, so my path was pretty clear”, Travis recalls.
Beginning his professional career preparing banquets at the ever busy Orlando Arena, he quickly moved on to working for Chef Nick Morfogen’s famed 32 East in Del Ray Beach. With his heart set on the West, he moved to Boulder, Colorado to join French Laundry alums at Frasca Food and Wine where he presided over the James Beard award winning kitchen as Chef d’Cuisine. He continued his westward expansion with the Hillstone Restaurant Group in Southern California and the Silicon Valley, where he refined his talents at Houston’s and the Los Altos Grill.
A locavore at heart, his cuisine is beyond classification. He is influenced by, among others, Alice Waters, Marc Vetri, and of course, TK (Thomas Keller for the non-foodies).
The lure of a better quality of life drew him and his wife Jessica to the Madison area, where she is from and works as an urban planner. Brought to the Sosnowski family and Rare by mutual friends at Allen Brothers in Chicago, Chef Travis is on a mission to make Rare Steakhouse what it deserves to be – one of the best steakhouses in the country.
Favorite Dish: Anything that’s fresh
Favorite wine: Meursault
Guilty Pleasure: Anything barley and hop related
Favorite Pass Time: Drifting aimlessly on Lake Mendota