As noted in this month’s Hideaway Report, Traci Des Jardins is the chef and co-owner of Manzanita, the superb signature restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. Originally from a farming community in California’s San Joaquin Valley, Des Jardins is of French-Acadian and Mexican descent. She apprenticed as a prep cook at Joachim Splichal’s 7th Street Bistro in Los Angeles before traveling to France to study under an array of notable talents, including Pierre Troisgros and Alain Ducasse.
After a stellar run at Rubicon, she opened Jardiniére in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley in 1997. At that time a small but charming strip of boutiques and restaurants tucked behind the San Francisco Symphony and the San Francisco Opera, Hayes Valley has since emerged as a vibrant commercial enclave. In an exceptionally competitive restaurant town, Jardiniére continues to win praise for its dramatic, sweeping interior and California-inflected French cuisine.
Des Jardins now presides over a small constellation of restaurants in San Francisco, including Mijita, a delicious taqueria in the Ferry Building (her mother’s family is from the Mexican state of Sonora) and Public House, the surprisingly excellent sports pub at AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. The Baja fish taco from Mijita or the pressed Cubano sandwich at Public House are both superlative on a bright blue San Francisco afternoon, perhaps with a crisp glass of local Anchor Steam beer.
Much like Chez Panisse, The French Laundry or Boulevard, Jardiniére is old enough to have given rise to an august family tree. Traci Des Jardins recently bought out her partner Pat Kuleto and is now the sole managing owner. She will host a 15-year anniversary benefit at the restaurant on November 12 to raise money for the No Kid Hungry campaign that will include famous alumni such as Richard Reddington of Redd and Paul Lamieux of Auberge du Soleil.