Chef Traci Des Jardins is a force in the culinary world. In 1995, she was named the James Beard Foundation’s “Rising Star Chef of the Year.” She was executive chef at Joachim Splichal’s Patina in Los Angeles. Later, she worked at notable San Francisco restaurants Aqua, Elka, and Rubicon before opening Jardinière in 1998. Jardinière was named Esquire magazine’s “Best New Restaurant,” and was also nominated as a “Best New Restaurant” by the James Beard Foundation in 1999.

We asked Chef Des Jardins what advice she has for up-and-comers in the culinary world and how she developed her personal cooking style.

Bocuse d’Or USA: Why are you a part of the Bocuse d’Or USA?
Traci Des Jardins: We should stand on the world stage and take our rightful place as one of the leaders of the culinary world.

Bocuse d’Or USA: Why is the Bocuse d’Or competition important in the grander culinary world?
Traci Des Jardins: Acknowledgement of the craft of cooking.

Bocuse d’Or USA: What does “American Cuisine” mean to you?
Traci Des Jardins: Melting pot – the ability to borrow from many different ethnic cuisines.

Bocuse d’Or USA: What makes a great chef?
Traci Des Jardins: Dedication.

Bocuse d’Or USA: What inspired you to start cooking?
Traci Des Jardins: My own family history gave me a passion for cooking.

Bocuse d’Or USA: Who is your greatest culinary inspiration? Why?
Traci Des Jardins: Alain Ducasse, a prolific and passionate chef who has evolved and stood the test of time.

Bocuse d’Or USA: When did you open your first restaurant?
Traci Des Jardins:

Bocuse d’Or USA: How did you develop your personal cooking style?
Traci Des Jardins: Training and evolution.

Bocuse d’Or USA: How has your personal cooking style changed over the years?
Traci Des Jardins: It has become simpler and more ingredient driven.

Bocuse d’Or USA: What advice do you have for young chefs and restaurateurs who are just getting started?
Traci Des Jardins: Find inspiration from unexpected places.

Thank you to Chef Des Jardins for taking the time to answer our questions. To learn more about her, check out