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.