Traci Des Jardins
Chef Owner, Jardiniere

Traci Des Jardins exudes the grace and peace of someone at the top of her game, who has come full circle in her career. "As I've grown personally and professionally something has shifted in my cooking. I used to feel the need to make a bold statement; now I'm just creating the food I love."

Des Jardins grew up in the San Joaquin Valley in a family where food was always the center of activity. Her father was a rice farmer. Her paternal grandfather was a skilled cook born in French Acadian Louisiana and her maternal grandparents were Mexican, which means that Des Jardins grew up being exposed to a wonderful mixture of cuisines.

She was planning a career as a veterinarian and entered the University of California-Santa Cruz with that intention, but quickly learned that her heart was elsewhere. Her "hard-core foodie" aunt introduced her to Chef Joachim Splichal who hired her and encouraged her growth. With Splichal's help, Traci landed a series of impressive European apprenticeships with the likes of Michel and Pierre Troisgros, Alain Sendersens, Alain Ducasse, and Alain Passard. Upon her return to the U.S., Des Jardins worked at Drew Nieporent's Montrachet in Manhattan before returning to California as the opening chef de cuisine of Splichal's Patina. Des Jardins helped to open Aqua with George Morrone and then Elka with Elka Gilmore. In 1993 she became the executive chef of Nieporent's Rubicon.

Des Jardins had long dreamed of owning her own restaurant where she could shape the dining experience around her own philosophy. That dream was realized with the 1997 opening of Jardiniere.

Although she prefers not to label the food, when pressed she calls her cuisine "French-California- the technique is entirely French and the ingredients are wholly Californian." She and restaurateur/designer Pat Kuleto succeeded in creating a romantic, celebratory and relaxed environment, where people of all ages are made to feel comfortable and welcome.


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