When the school hired a European chef for a semester, he gave up studying almost completely and became the chef’s apprentice.
Eventually, he made his way to San Francisco to try his luck at working in a restaurant. He has worked with Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, in several capacities over the last 25 years. He has been head chef for the upstairs Café at Chez Panisse, as well as head chef for the more formal downstairs Chez Panisse Restaurant. Tanis spent most of the 1990s in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he was chef of the acclaimed Café Escalera.
Currently he spends half the year in Paris, where he writes and hosts a private dining club, and half the year in San Francisco, where he continues chef duties at Chez Panisse in collaboration with long-time colleague Jean-Pierre Moullé. Tanis has also assisted with seminars at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone Campus in the Napa Valley. Tanis co-authored the Chez Panisse Café Cookbook. He has been featured in The New York Times, Gourmet and Saveur. His revered cookbook A Platter of Figs was published in 2008.