Chef/Co-owner: Jardinière, Mijita Cocina Mexicana and Chef/Partner: Public House and Manzanita, San Francisco, CA
Competing For: La Cocina
Before opening Jardinière in San Francisco just over a decade ago, chef Traci Des Jardins worked in some of the finest kitchens in Los Angeles, France, and New York City. She was raised in a farming family in California’s San Joaquin Valley where she developed a deep love for the earth and its bounty at an early age. Though she never had a job in a restaurant before, through sheer determination she landed a tryout with Joachim Splichal, then at 7th Street Bistro in Los Angeles and within two weeks she was running a station in the kitchen. In Splichal’s kitchen, Des Jardins was inspired to further her craft in France where she apprenticed with legendary chefs including Michel and Pierre Troisgros, Alain Senderens, Alain Ducasse, and Alain Passard. Since Jardinière opened its doors, Des Jardins has made it one of San Francisco’s most popular destinations. She has earned a great number of accolades for her French-California cuisine. In 1995 she won the James Beard Foundation’s “Rising Star Chef of the Year”, Food & Wine magazine’s “Best New Chef,” in 1997 San Francisco Magazine’s “Chef of the Year” and the James Beard Foundation Award in 2007 for “Best Chef: Pacific.” Jardinière won Esquire Magazine’s “Best New Restaurant,” a nomination by the James Beard foundation for “Best New Restaurant” in 1997 and the San Francisco Chronicle has listed it as one of the “Top 100 Restaurants” in the Bay Area each year since opening. In December 2009, Des Jardins opened Manzanita in the new Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe California. In 2004, she opened Mijita Cocina Mexicana in the San Francisco Ferry Building and in 2010 the second location at AT&T Park. She also serves as chef/partner for Public House located at AT&T Park, which opened in March 2010. Beyond the kitchen, she sits on the advisory board of Bocuse d’Or USA joining fellow chefs in the quest to elevate culinary excellence in the United States. Des Jardins is a deeply committed activist and philanthropist working with hunger-relief organizations such as Share Our Strength, Citymeals On-Wheels and other non-profits such as La Cocina and amfAR.
The Latest from Traci
Culminating into a Great Night
Episode 10: 'Top Chef Masters' Finale
The chefs made dishes inspired by their original inspirations (after eating a Curtis Stone-made Quickfire). Flip through the finale photos here.
'Top Chef Masters' Finale
Which dish was most masterful? Judge the chefs final dishes from this season.
Episode 9: A Solider's Story
The chefs cooked with their relatives -- albeit without their knowledge -- and then served America's servicemen the dishes of their dreams.
A Solider's Story
Did the chefs make dishes worthy of our servicemen or did the event seem more like a mess (hall)?
Episode 8: Blinded Me With Science
The chefs deal with some tough to impress diners -- Padma Lakshmi and high schoolers. See the scientific snapshots now.
Blinded Me With Science
After whipping up quick breakfast dishes, the chefs had to channel their inner chemists -- cooking fare that represented a scientific principle for a science fair.