Chef Jorge Lumbreras has worked in San Francisco restaurants since he was a teenager, at well-loved establishments including Restaurant Lulu and then for 13 years with James Beard award–winning chef Traci Des Jardins at both Acme Chophouse and Public House. In 2012, Traci promoted Jorge to Executive Chef at Public House, and he became an expert at giving hungry fans everything they need to celebrate a victory. (From 2010-2014 Jorge saw the San Francisco Giants win three World Series in just four years!)
Jorge first learned to cook as a child from his grandmother, learning to master the traditional Mexican dishes she made every day on the family’s farm in the small town of Queretiro. It was there that Jorge developed a deep love for food and for farm-fresh ingredients — a passion he brings to STEM’s hyperlocal garden and kitchen.
“Every day my grandmother made lunch for us with everything she collected on the farm,” he says. “That's what inspired me the most — seeing everything grow on the farm, raising our own chickens, and learning how much you can do with fresh ingredients.”
At STEM, Jorge has nodded to his childhood experience by adding modern international flavors and dishes to the menu while retaining the flexible California-Mediterranean style that is the hallmark of the restaurant. He works collaboratively with onsite gardeners Farmscape to develop seasonal garden plans for the kitchen, and has added new varieties of chiles, tomatoes, and figs to the crop rotation.
In addition to using STEM’s onsite garden for culinary inspiration, Jorge also cultivates relationships with local farmers, fisherfolk, and ranchers to source ingredients that reflect the flavors of the San Francisco Bay Area. For Jorge, garden- and farm-to-table aren’t just trendy catchphrases, they are a way of life that he brings to the plate at STEM every day.
“This is the way I’ve been eating all my life, it’s not new to me,” he says. “I’m excited every day because the way I cook at STEM takes me back to when I was growing up — it’s a healthier and more sustainable way of being.”