My Secret Ingredient, People
Traci Des Jardins is a James Beard Award Winning Chef and owner of Jardiniere in San Francisco. She is active in many philanthropic organizations, including La Cocina, helping women entrepreneurs launch culinary businesses.
Traci was born to parents of Mexican and French Acadian decent in a small rural community in the agriculturally rich Central Valley of California. Her family’s passion for food undoubtedly influenced her pursuit of a career as a chef. Dropping out of college at the age of 17, Traci quickly found herself thoroughly immersed in a very intense French kitchen in Los Angeles, leading to her informal training in the cutting edge food scene. Over the subsequent years she worked in top kitchens in France, New York and Los Angeles to hone her cooking skills and two decades ago Traci settled back in Northern California to pursue the dream of owning her own restaurant.
As an executive chef she quickly rose in the ranks and became one of the top female chefs in the country garnering many accolades for the restaurants she opened. Traci has adapted to the current day demands of chefs and not only rules over the kitchen, but also has appeared on Iron Chef America beating Mario Batali, and was a finalist on Top Chef Masters season 3. She currently operates five restaurants, is a devoted mother of a 12-year old son and is active in many philanthropic organizations. In her spare time she spends as much time as possible on the ski slopes in the winter and travels whenever and to wherever she can.