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Traci Des Jardins

Wed, 05/14/2008 - 15:21
Submitted by admin_rg
Traci Des Jardins
Jardinière San Francisco

Tuesday, September 16 2:00PM—3:10PM

Fine Dining Chefs who have Opened Successful Casual Restaurants Business Seminar


Raised on a farm in California's San Joaquin Valley, Traci Des Jardins developed a deep love for the Earth and its bounty early in life. At age 6, Des Jardins – Mexican on her mother's side, Louisianan-French Acadian on her father's – began baking with her mother, who prepared family meals with produce from the garden and local game. While a student in veterinary studies at the University of California, Des Jardins realized her true calling was in the kitchen. What she lacked in culinary experience she possessed in sheer determination, enabling her to convince Joachim Splichal, then at 7th Street Bistro in Los Angeles, to hire her. After just two weeks in the kitchen, Des Jardins was running a station. With Splichal's encouragement and recommendation, she apprenticed in France with many of the greats, including Michel and Pierre Troisgros, Lucas Carton, Alain Ducasse, and Alain Passard.

After she returned to the US, Des Jardins worked at Montrachet in New York before being invited by Splichal to work as chef de cuisine at his new restaurant, Patina, which opened in Los Angeles in 1989. Des Jardins then moved to San Francisco, where she had long wanted to live, to open Aqua with George Morrone and Elka Gilmore. In 1997, she opened her own restaurant, Jardinière, which continues to top the list of San Francisco’s best restaurants.

In recent years, Des Jardins has opened two other San Francisco restaurants, becoming one of the city’s most dynamic restaurateurs. Acme Chophouse is a seasonal restaurant and wine bar with a focus on quality meats, and Mijita, a restaurant featuring regional Mexican dishes in the Ferry Building.

Des Jardins has been honored with numerous awards – she received James Beard Foundation awards for “Best Chef, Pacific” in 2007 and "Rising Star Chef of the Year" in 1995, was one of Food & Wine's "Best New Chefs" and San Francisco Magazine's" Chef of the Year.” Jardinière has been honored as one of the “Top 100 Restaurants” in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Chronicle each year since opening. Currently, Des Jardins is a guest blogger at Epicurious.


Beer-Battered Mahi-Mahi Soft Tacos with Marinated Cabbage and Avocado Sauce
Chef Traci Des Jardins of Mijita – San Francisco, CA
Adapted by

Yield: 4 Servings


• 4 cups finely sliced green cabbage
• ½ cup thinly sliced white onion
• 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
• 3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
• ¼ teaspoon dried oregano

• ½ cup mayonnaise (preferably homemade)
• ½ large avocado, peeled and pitted
• ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
• 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
• 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1 finely minced jalapeno (optional)

• ½ cup all purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
• ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons rice flour
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 12-ounce bottle of cold beer
• 12 ounces Mahi-Mahi fillets, cut into 3 x ½ x ½-inch strips

To Assemble and Serve:
• Vegetable oil (for frying)
• 16 6-inch corn tortillas
• 8 fresh cilantro sprigs
• Lime wedges


For the Cabbage:
Toss all ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reserve covered and chilled until service.

For the Sauce:
Blend all ingredients in mini processor. Add water by teaspoonfuls to adjust texture as desired (the sauce should be thick, but able to be drizzled). Season and reserve covered and chilled until service.

For the Mahi-Mahi:
Combine flour, rice flour and salt in a bowl, and gradually whisk in beer. Place fish in large strainer; add a bit of flour and toss fish in strainer to coat. Shake well, releasing excess flour. Add fish to beer batter, and coat. This can stand at room temperature for up to an hour.

To Assemble and Serve:
Fill a heavy saucepan with ½ an inch of vegetable oil. Heat oil to 375°F. Working in batches, lift fish from batter and drop into hot oil. Fry until crisp and golden, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Heat tortillas in large skillet over medium-high heat until warm and pliable, about 20 seconds per side. Stack 2 tortillas for each taco. Using tongs, place some cabbage in center of each tortilla stack. Top with sauce, cilantro sprig, and fish. Fold edges of tortillas over filling. Place 2 tacos on each of 4 plates. Garnish with lime wedges and serve.

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