On April 30, 2018, Traci officially launched School Night, her bar in collaboration with event space The Pearl, located in San Francisco's Dog Patch. True to its name, the bar is open Sunday through Wednesday from 5 pm to midnight, featuring hand-crafted pisco, agave and whiskey cocktails by Arguello's Enrique Sanchez, plus Mexican-influenced bar snacks.
Twenty years ago, a new high-profile restaurant called Jardiniere opened on a sunny Friday in the Hayes Valley neighborhood of San Francisco. That year, Bill Clinton began his second presidential term. The world was reeling from Princess Diana’s death in a tragic car accident. J.K. Rowling’s debut novel published in the U.K., and 32-year-old star chef Traci Des Jardins was about to open a restaurant that would make it big.
Des Jardins was recruited to partner in the restaurant by Pat Kuleto, the moneyed winemaker, designer, and entrepreneur who had already made a reputation for himself as a “dream maker” for chefs.
In the restaurant world, it was a time of decadence. San Francisco was flush in the cash of the dot-com era. Dinner portions were Flinstonian. Expense accounts, bottomless. Fitting the mood of the time, Kuleto wanted Jardiniere to be a supper club with live jazz and crowds that were four-deep at the bar.
But with a hotshot chef like Des Jardins involved, the food was bound to take center stage. Des Jardins had already been dubbed Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine. She already had a James Beard Award.
She was also a recovering, self-described “tyrant” chef. “I came up in an era where there was no management style,” she explains. “You screamed and yelled. It’s how I was trained, but I didn’t want to be like that anymore. My goal was to create a management style that was disciplined and rigorous without being abusive.”
September 2017 marks the 20-year anniversary for Jardinière.
To celebrate, we are throwing four days of events, starting on Saturday, Sept. 9.
Saturday, September 9th | 20th Anniversary Kickoff with TDJ
Sunday, September 10th | Women of Hayes Valley
Monday, September 11th | Cocktails & Canapés
Tuesday, September 12th | Alumni Celebrations
We're bringing back legacy chefs, wine directors and general managers, and inviting our Hayes Valley colleagues and favorite bar managers. Proceeds from some of our events will also benefit organizations such as incubator La Cocina.
Information on how to join us is can be found here. We hope to see you.
In November, in order to help encourage voters to register and vote for Hillary Clinton, Traci joined Chefs for Hillary, which features such celebrity chefs as Mario Batali, Tom Colicchio and close friend Mary Sue Milliken.
The Impossible Burger looks, handles, smells, cooks and tastes like ground beef from cows, yet it's made entirely from plants and has a much smaller environmental footprint than meat from animals. In addition, the Impossible Burger has no hormones, antibiotics, cholesterol or artificial flavors.
At Jardinière the Impossible Burger is served on (vegan) Acme buns, topped with Dijonnaise sauce, caramelized onions, avocado, cornichons, and lettuce and tomato, along with a side of pommes frites. Because of the high demand, it is offered only in the bar and lounge after 7:30 p.m., and only to customers with tickets that are issued at 7 p.m. just to make sure the restaurant can meet all its orders.
In May, Traci began training for a three-day 300-mile annual charity ride in late June called ChefsCycle, the proceeds of which benefit No Kid Hungry. Each year, nearly 200 chefs and restaurant industry professionals ride from Carmel to Santa Barbara to help put an end to childhood hunger. This will be Traci's first.
"People who ride bikes tell me I'm crazy, but chefs are determined people, accustomed to long hours in discomfort, " Traci says. "I am in reasonable shape and have been adding 20 hours of weekly training to my already pretty tough work week."
Luckily, "I am enjoying the riding."
To raise money for her team -- consisting of staff members from her restaurant The Commissary -- Traci has been hosting charity dinners and cocktail hours, plus offering her services in various auctions. With every dollar possibly connecting a child to as many as 10 meals, Traci is aiming to raise at least $22,500.
To learn more about Traci and her team -- or to donate -- go to her Team Commissary page.
Otherwise, bid on a private dinner cooked by Traci at your home, or attend a five-course chefs-counter meal on June 16 or a pop-up bar on June 19, both at The Commissary. Details below.
Chef’s Counter Dinner
5 Courses, with wine pairings - $150 per person
Only 16 seats available.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot today!
Team TDJ’s Pop Up Bar
Come enjoy Off the Grid and support Traci’s team by sipping margaritas and more.
11am – 4pm
The Commissary Porch
101 Montgomery Street in the Presidio
In this quickfire, the five remaining chefs were tasked with creating a delicious slice of toast; the two chefs with the least favorite dishes then went head-to-head in a second cook-off, after which one was eliminated.
If you missed the episode, you can watch an excerpt on BravoTV.com.
In this Jan. 26, 2016, piece in Edible San Francisco by Sarah Henry, Traci discusses her view on being a female chef in a male-dominated field.
Across town at the elegant white-tablecloth Jardinière in Hayes Valley, Traci Des Jardins cuts to the chase. “I hate questions around gender. It makes me insane that we’re still asking them,” she says. “But I understand why. It’s still a boys’ club out there.”
One reason I asked Des Jardins specifically—aside from the fact that she’s a two-time James Beard Award–winning chef with a 24-year perspective on running restaurants in San Francisco—is because she raised it herself recently.
In October 2015, on the site First We Feast, Traci shared with Lauren Sloss her views on kitchen politics, the power of a handmade tortilla, and the ecstasy of French dining.
“I was certainly an anomaly when I was starting out,” says Traci Des Jardins, lauded San Francisco-based chef and Top Chef: Masters contestant. “I worked in four Michelin-starred kitchens in France in the ‘80s, and I was the only woman.”
Thirty years on, Des Jardins has certainly seen gender parity grow. But in an industry that remains decidedly male-centric, her lengthy and successful career continues to make her a unique entity—a female chef who dominates in both the culinary and business facets of the restaurant world. Her early experiences in French kitchens (she apprenticed with legends Michel and Pierre Troisgros, Alain Ducasse, and Alain Passard) displayed a willingness to ascend the ranks, regardless of barriers to entry.
In this Tested.com video, Traci works side by side with her friend Adam Savage of Discovery Channel's MythBusters, fixing and improving her cat's exercise wheel. With some tweaks and swapping out of parts in Adam's Cave, the giant wheel's operation is greatly improved. It ended up a fun little project that required a bit of problem solving, and Traci's cat got a great workout out of it at the end! In fact, we understand that he's spending about an hour a day on the wheel, and he's lost several pounds.
Traci Des Jardins kicked off the 2015 season of Tested.com's Talking Room with Adam Savage, of MythBusters. Traci's good friend invited her to talk about her cooking ethos, the challenge of managing restaurants, and her approach to crafting new recipes.
It's a rare look into what makes Traci tick. For example, who knew she took up cooking after college because she wanted to be a ski bum?
On April 1, 2015, Traci Des Jardins opened her third restaurant at the Presidio.Read More
The James Beard Foundation has nominated Traci as a 2015 semifinalist for Outstanding ChefRead More
On Feb. 11, 2015, Traci Des Jardins appeared on Top Chef Boston as a guest judge.Read More
Traci Des Jardins will be opening a third restaurant in the Presidio.Read More
ELLE Magazine recognizes Traci Des Jardins among its top 30 restaurants where women "call the shots."Read More