Meet Travis Weiss
Husband, father, and chef
Education: University of Maryland
Travis began his culinary journey at a very young age cooking in his home with his mother. As much as he appreciated and enjoyed building furniture and working on the family vehicles with his father, his love and passion for cooking soon became very apparent. In high school Travis opted to participate in the vocational school associated to his high school and began taking culinary arts classes. He quickly became a standout in his class and was encouraged by his instructor to join V.I.C.A (Vocational and Industrial Clubs of America) and start competing in their skills competitions. Being a competitive person, Travis loved and flourished in the V.I.C.A. events, placing top 5 nationally in the 2 years he competed at the Nationals in Kansas City.
In 2006, Travis was called on by a friend who managed Buffalo Billiards in DuPont Circle to lend some bartending experience on weekend nights as he was very short staffed. It didn’t take long for Travis to start getting the itch to be back in the industry. The rush and energy of a busy bar or restaurant were something he was missing with his full time job. Travis decided to take the leap back into the hospitality industry fulltime and quit the day job.
Travis accepted a job as a bartender/assistant general manager/kitchen manager for a small pub called Porters. It didn’t take long before he was fixing the menu and dishes that didn’t meet his expectations and Porters quickly became a very hot lunch spot. Travis would show up hours before he was scheduled so he could prep daily specials and try out new dishes. He would then carry out all of the day to day ops, bartend and wait tables during the lunch rush and happy hour.
A regular and friends of Travis’ was a very skilled and well known chef named Russel Cunningham. Travis was considering going back to Culinary School, Russel convinced and suggested that Travis come work for him at a new Brewpup opening up called Mad Fox Brewing Company. He said “why the hell would you go to school when I can give you a better education and you’ll get paid while doing it?” This was the turning point in Travis’s career and his life. Under the tutelage of Russel and his French trained Sous Chef, Sean Swasey, Travis learned butchering, classic recipes and techniques as well as innovative and modern approaches to cooking such as compression, sous vide and molecular gastronomy.
When Russel moved on to another establishment Travis took his new found and acquired skills and passion to Belle Haven Country Club (BHCC) to work for 1 year under an idol of his named Greg Sharp. Working for Greg taught Travis how to prep and cook for parties of 500+ guests as well as private and intimate fine dining events. Under Greg’s guidance, Travis began spending a large amount of his time learning how to make homemade sausages and cured meats as well as ice creams and gelatos.
After his time at BHCC was up Travis joined the Matchbox Food Group as sous chef for the newly opened Teds Bulletin in DC. Travis would later go on to assist in opening 2 more Teds Bulletins and 1 Matchbox, finding a knack for training and helping to take a kitchen from empty to fully operational and organized, ready for business. The time with Matchbox taught Travis the very valuable practice of systems and being organized and in control of your operation. Inventory, budget planning, pars, order guides and projections all gave Travis more tools in his arsenal in becoming a well-rounded Chef.
Travis formally met Wes in 2014 as a regular patron of Rebellion, a local favorite hangout for Travis and his wife Carolina. What started as regular shop talk soon became more about work philosophy, standards, ethics and relationships. Wes and Travis soon began to see that working together could benefit each of them immensely. Travis could do food his way without anyone holding him back and Wes could round out Rebellion as a real player in the City with an improved food program.
In January of 2016 Travis joined the Rebellion family as their executive chef. Change was quickly noticed both in the culture of the kitchen and in the most important area, sales. In just 3 months, food sales tripled. In April, Travis was moved from Rebellion to a roll under the PROOF hospitality group overseeing Rebellion and the Commodore Public House & Kitchen. Travis is now responsible for both kitchens along with an operational responsibility for both restaurants.
Honors & Awards:
V.I.C.A (Vocational and Industrial Clubs of America) top 5 national finalist two years in a row.
People’s choice award and silver medalist Burger Days/Capital Meats Burger DC’s best burger competition.
Won DC's Best Burger 2018 in the Budweiser Burger Battle.