Tracey Shepos Cenami grew up in a family that was always cooking. Her Italian Nana and mother put considerable thought into everyday meals, treating each as a special occasion. This foundation inspired Tracey's path from at-home amateur to award-winning cookbook author. Tracey held her first job as a dishwasher at a summer camp and was immediately hooked on the comradery, artistic expression, and satisfaction of the kitchen. She knew she had found her calling. Throughout high school, she continued to pursue jobs in the culinary industry before attending the Culinary Institute of America in San Francisco. After graduation, she worked under Chef Michael Romano at Union Square Café in New York City, then went on to cook in some of San Francisco’s best-known and loved restaurants.
After years in the culinary world, Tracey was drawn to the wine industry, which she found to be a natural transition. She loved the prospect of living in wine country and having the opportunity to create food to pair with specific wines. Before joining the Kendall-Jackson team in 2012, she worked for eight years as the executive chef for Stark Reality restaurants, a Sonoma County restaurant group. During her tenure there, she helped to open five different restaurants and create a catering department.
Tracey considers the Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens to be a chef’s dream. From the produce grown in the garden, to the selection of cheeses, to the beautiful kitchen, it offers everything a chef could want. Tracey is a vital member of the culinary team at Kendall-Jackson, specializing in wine country cuisine and artisanal cheeses. Her recipes have been published in magazines and newspapers, as well as the award-winning SEASON cookbook. She regularly competes on the Food Network against some of the country’s top chefs, including Bobby Flay, Alex Guarnaschelli, and Christa Lutdke, and she is a three-time winner of Guy’s Grocery Games.
When Tracey is not creating perfect pairings, she enjoys running and spending time outside with her husband and son barbequing in the backyard, eating oysters on the Sonoma Coast or trying new things (like dancing in a hip-hop performance). Tracey is committed to supporting her community through volunteer work and is a founding board member of the Sonoma County chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, an international organization dedicated to inspiring, advancing, and supporting women in food, beverage, and hospitality. Her personal favorite pairing is Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Pinot Noir with bacon almonds and Valley Ford Estero Gold cheese.