Before opening Jardinière in San Francisco in 1997, Des Jardins worked in some of the highly acclaimed kitchens in Los Angeles, France, and New York City. Classically trained in French cuisine by some of the best chefs and restaurateurs in the world, Des Jardins' style is also influenced by her Mexican and French-Acadian grandparents, who taught her how to cook. Throughout her more than two decades in San Francisco, Des Jardins has continued to focus and evolve her style of cooking as well as her restaurants. Over the course of her successful career she has trained and groomed many chefs and front-of-the-house personnel, many of whom now help operate her growing group of restaurants.
In 2004 Des Jardins opened Mijita Cocina Mexicana in the San Francisco Ferry Building, combining the best of Bay Area seasonal and local ingredients with the traditional Mexican flavors of her youth. Six years later she launched Public House, a sports bar serving California-influenced pub food at AT&T Park -- home of the 2014 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants.
San Francisco's historic Presidio became home to two new restaurants from Des Jardins in 2014: The Commissary, featuring Spanish-influenced California cuisine, and Arguello, serving Mexican fare. Launched in partnership with the Bon Appétit Management Company and the Presidio Trust, the two restaurants opened to critical acclaim, including Esquire's list of 2014's Best New Restaurants (for The Commissary). A third Presidio restaurant, TRANSIT, was opened in 2015, offering casual dining, food on the go, and everyday basics to commuters and Presidio visitors alike.
Known as one of the top female chefs in the country, Des Jardins is a two-time James Beard award-winner and has earned a number of industry accolades throughout her career including:
- James Beard Foundation’s “Rising Star Chef of the Year,” 1995
- Food & Wine Magazine’s “Best New Chef,” 1995
- San Francisco Magazine’s “Chef of the Year,” 1995
- Winner of Esquire Magazine’s “Best New Restaurant” (Jardinière), 1999
- James Beard Foundation nomination for “Best New Restaurant" (Jardinière), 1999
- James Beard Foundation Award for “Best Chef: Pacific,” 2007
- Winner of “Iron Chef” title (vs. Mario Batali) on Food Network's Iron Chef America, 2007
- Finalist on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters 3, 2011
- Winner of Esquire's Knife Fight, 2014
- Semifinalist for James Beard Foundation’s “Outstanding Chef,” 2015
Des Jardins sits on the board of La Cocina, a San Francisco based non-profit business incubator, and on the advisory board of Bocuse d’Or USA, joining fellow chefs in the quest to elevate culinary excellence in the United States. She 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 amfAR.