You would imagine that the child of a French father and a Mexican mother would have a very unique approach to cooking. And as Traci Des Jardins has shown us, you would be right. Born in California, Traci was raised with cooking that reflected both her mother’s Mexican heritage and her father’s Louisianan-French Acadian background.
Before starting her own restaurants, Traci apprenticed at La Maison Troisgros in France and served as executive chef at Joachim Splichal’s Patina in Los Angeles. In 1998, Traci opened her own establishment, Jardinière, following up on her James Beard Foundation award for “Rising Star Chef of the Year” in 1995. Since opening Jardinière (which was named Esquire magazine’s “Best New Restaurant” and nominated for the same award by the James Beard Foundation), Traci has received the James Beard Foundation award for “Best Chef: Pacific” in 2007, won Food & Wine magazine’s “Best New Chef” award, and San Francisco magazine’s “Chef of the Year” award. And, of course, Traci has also competed on “Top Chef: Masters,” “Iron Chef America,” and “The Next Iron Chef,” so it’s no surprise that a chef with her extensive resume is appearing on this list.
Specialties & Resources
Calling on her unique culinary background, Traci uses locally-sourced, organic and seasonal ingredients wherever possible to create interesting new twists on classic dishes. Though Jardinière can best be classified as a French restaurant, you can find the Mexican practice of using local ingredients to add flavor and a visually appealing aesthetic to the dishes.
Some of the pre-dinner offerings at Jardinière include burrata & focaccia with lardo, rosemary and sea salt, wild rice croquette with goat cheese and porcini mushrooms, autumn vegetable soup with flageolet, artichoke and lamb sausage, chicory salad with pippin apple, sunflower and buttermilk, Hamachi crudo with habanero, avocado and lime.
The dinner menu includes items such as chicken with chantenay carrot, pumpkin shoot and hummus; quail with red grape, quinoa, purslane and tomatillo; Alaskan halibut with chanterelle, chrysanthemum and umeboshi; lamb (loin, belly, and shoulder) with kale and lentil panisse, and jardinière charcuterie with mousse, pate, testa, pancetta and lucchese.
And in the grand tradition of French cuisine, the desserts include chocolate terrine with pave, bavarois and sesame; mulled pear sorbet with chevre, pain d’epices and citrus, and mignardises.