Why We Love Traci Des Jardins
Traci’s ambition knows no bounds. She’s on a mission to elevate culinary excellence in the U.S., and we can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.
“I’m a chef but I’m also a lot of other things. I’m a mother, a daughter, a sister. I’m a member of my community, I’m an entrepreneur, I’m a boss.”
“I identified with the Mexican community. I grew up with it. It’s my soul food. My family loved food; everyone cooked, hunted and foraged together; all of our gatherings were around food.”
How did life on a farm influence your approach to cooking?
I think it's important that people have a connection to the life given for the steak that's on your plate. One of my favorite questions is, if you had to kill what you eat, what would you eat? Could you kill a cow? A pig? It's not easy and I don't think it should be easy. I think people should really think about that.
Tell us a little about your favorite things to eat.
I'm an American, trained in French cooking, and half-Mexican by descent. Mexican food is my soul food, plus I'm a California native and the history of the Spanish here is undeniable. I just love Spanish cuisine. I like to grill on live fire when I’m at home. I like little birds. I’m probably obsessed with the quails that we get, the Wolf Ranch quails. My favorite is probably grilled quails and some kind of salad.
Is there a certain recipe that has a special place in your heart?
My grandmother would put bacon fat in a tub in the sink. She’d use that to make tortillas every day. I started making them with her when I was five. My grandfather made me a rolling pin from a broomstick that fit my hands. We used to eat them with just butter and salt. Eating one still brings me right back to my grandmother’s kitchen in a heartbeat.
What are some of your favorite places in the Bay Area?
In terms of neighborhoods, I love the Mission. I’m kind of an offbeat location kind of person. It’s my favorite neighborhood by far. I love going to eat at Saison. I love Foreign Cinema. I love lofty, warehouse spaces like that. I’d also just love to do something there because I love the community, and I love the idea of supporting industry there.
What keeps you motivated?
It’s always the people. Those people can be your guests or those people can be your staff. It’s a people business and when everything is singing, you have happy people around you.
What causes are near and dear to you?
The thing I love most is the ability to leverage my so-called celebrity for greater good and philanthropy, and to be able to raise money for causes I believe in. That’s really meaningful to me. That’s my silver lining.
Explore Upcoming Trips with our Tastemakers
Oaxaca with Cheetie Kumar
A journey through Oaxaca, the heart and sould of Mexico, with chef Cheetie Kumar. We’ll experience it all—at artist studios, ancient ruins, local markets, street-food stands, hacienda hotels. Join us!
Vietnam & Cambodia with Ferrell Alvarez
Experience two of southeast Asia's most delicious destinations with Chef Ferrell Alvarez. We'll dive deeply into Ho Chi Minh City's street food and culture, explore the Mekong Delta and the temples of Angkor, revel in Siem Reap’s food scene and Phnom Penh’s nightlife. Join us!
Mexico City with Jonathan Zaragoza
A five-day journey through one of the world's great art, cultural and culinary destinations. Climb pyramids, ride hot-air balloons, go ringside at a luchadores wrestling match, meet graffiti artists, and eat very, very well.