Tracy Borkum hails from London, England, Tracy Borkum is widely known as one of Southern California’s most respected restaurateurs and the founder of the hospitality collective Urban Kitchen Group (UKG). Tracy’s first restaurant venture began in 1995 when she opened the iconic Kensington Grill in San Diego, followed by the debut of her trendy, globally inspired downtown restaurant Chive in 1999. Tracy launched Urban Kitchen Catering in 2004 to bring fresh, locally sourced ingredient-driven dishes to events across the area. In 2005, she seized an opportunity to purchase an esteemed fine dining restaurant, Laurel in Banker’s Hill, to which she quickly elevated within San Diego’s emerging chef-driven culinary landscape to earn a coveted 4 Mobil Star rating. Drawing on her passion for interior design, retail, wine and sustainable cuisine, Tracy boldly pivoted Laurel in the midst of 2008’s economic recession to undergo a four-week renovation to create CUCINA urbana, a California-inspired Italian kitchen and wine shop. The debut marked her flagship concept for UKG, becoming one of the most iconic restaurants in the city for its unique ability to combine dining with a multifaceted retail market where guests could purchase everything around them including designer chairs, tables, lighting fixtures, décor, wine, home goods and more. More than a decade has passed since opening in 2009, and CUCINA urbana is still one of the most coveted reservations in San Diego’s exploding dining landscape with recent honors from Michelin Bib Gourmand, Wine Spectator, Zagat, and more.
Tracy went on to expand the UKG empire throughout SoCal with CUCINA urbana’s sister-brands, CUCINA enoteca, in Irvine in 2011, Del Mar in 2013, and a third location in Newport Beach by 2014. The latest Cucina spin-off, cucina SORELLA, opened in her former Kensington Grill location in 2016 emphasizing handmade pasta, artisan pizza, and shareable plates in a casual, neighborhood-friendly atmosphere. In 2021, coming out of the pandemic Tracy saw an opportunity to grow UKG’s foothold exponentially, and within a twelve-month period, her collective doubled with the launch of Urban Kitchen food pavilion and marketplace at The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, ARTIFACT and CRAFT Café inside Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park, and Morena Provisions catering facility and café in San Diego.
In fall of 2022 Tracy opened doors to one of her greatest passion projects yet, Gold Finch modern delicatessen rooted in Jewish Ashkenazi and Shephardic-style cooking as an ode to her Jewish heritage, and her latest concept includes The Kitchen at The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, which opened in February 2023. Her restaurants have been featured in New York Times, Food Network, Sunset Magazine, Travel + Leisure, Food & Wine, and Los Angeles Times among others. A passionate philanthropist, Tracy gives back to her community as an advocate for women in life and business, alongside her work with non-profits in the interest of children, food insecurity, and the arts.