A California native of a small Central Valley agricultural community, Traci Des Jardins has been a part of the San Francisco food community for more than 30 years, opening several award-winning restaurants. She currently runs a diverse group of eateries including Mijita Cocina Mexicana in the Ferry Building and Public House in Oracle Park, which serves classic American fare.
Des Jardins’ newer ventures, The Commissary, Arguello, and TRANSIT Cafe are located in Presidio in San Francisco, in partnership with the Presidio Trust and Bon Appétit Management Company. They also offer catering, under Presidio Foods Catering, in a number of amazing venues throughout the Presidio.
Classically trained in French cuisine by some of the best chefs and restaurateurs in the world, Des Jardins’ style draws influence from her Mexican and French-Acadian grandparents, who taught her how to cook and inspired her passion for food. Throughout more than two decades in San Francisco, Des Jardins has been a part of some of San Francisco’s most celebrated restaurants including Aqua, now Michael Mina’s eponymous restaurant, as well as the now closed Rubicon, a collaboration with storied restaurateur Drew Nieporant. In 2019, Des Jardins closed her beloved restaurant Jardinière after 21 years.
Prior to coming to San Francisco in 1991, she worked in some of the most highly acclaimed kitchens in Los Angeles, France, and New York City. Over the course of her successful career she has trained and groomed chefs and front-of-the-house leaders, many of whom now help operate her growing group of restaurants, while others have gone on to their own successful ventures.
In 2018, Des Jardins’ launched School Night in collaboration with The Pearl, a premier event venue in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood. 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 Enrique Sanchez and Mexican-influenced bar snacks.
As the culinary advisor to Impossible Foods, the revolutionary, plant-based meat company behind the Impossible Burger, Des Jardins was among the first chefs in the country to serve the Impossible Burger at her restaurants.
A dedicated philanthropist, Des Jardins sat on the board of the local non-profit La Cocina for more than 10 years. She has long been committed to sustainability in all of her restaurants and is an avid supporter of the farm-to-table movement, building close ties and relationships with the farmers, ranchers, and purveyors. 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 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
Winner of Esquire Magazine’s “Best New Restaurant” (The Commissary), 2014