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
Australia with Gavin Kaysen
Nine days of art, food, culture and hands-on creativity in Australia with chef Gavin Kaysen. We'll hop from Melbourne and Adelaide to the Barossa Valley and Port Lincoln, through sweeping valleys and vineyards, past majestic waterfalls and vibrant city murals—and face-to-face with Australia’s most inspired culinary destinations.
Oaxaca with Traci Des Jardins
Explore Oaxaca's food, art and culture with two-time James Beard Award-winning chef Traci Des Jardins. We’ll meet shamans and weavers, eat at a local artist’s home, taste mezcal with a fourth-generation mezcalero, stand atop Zapotec pyramids, and relax at a colonial hacienda in the mountains. If you travel to stimulate all of your senses, this seven-day journey to the soul of Mexico is for you.
Vietnam with Aaron Barnett
Take a cultural and culinary journey through Vietnam with Chef Aaron Barnett. We'll dive deep into Vietnam's regional cuisines and culture, walk ancient lanes in Hanoi, explore Central Vietnam’s Imperial roots, and have plenty of time to eat and shop our way through Hoi An’s most delicious markets.