Traci Des Jardins at her home in San Francisco's Noe Valley.
David Fenton

The celebrated restaurateur talks about being an Iron Chef competitor, her favorite cocktail, and cooking for kids

Peter Fish

Winning Iron Chef America on Food Network:

It's competitive cooking ― very difficult, but it was fun. I never went in anticipating that I could win. This month I'm doing The Next Iron Chef, but I'm not supposed to reveal anything about it.

Her San Francisco restaurants:

Jardinière is 10 years old this year, and we're refreshing it. We're putting in a lounge ― we wanted an elegant bar. Cocktails have come back in a big way. Then I have Mijita, and I help with Acme Chophouse down at AT&T Park. I'm glad Barry Bonds finally put one away.

Favorite cocktail:

I drink margaritas more than anything else. I really do like tequila. I'm partial to El Tesoro Blanco.

On growing up in California's San Joaquin Valley:

I'm from Firebaugh. My father's a farmer; he grew cotton, beets, and rice. 

Her home kitchens:

I'm not that picky; I don't have a dream kitchen. It would be lovely to have a pizza oven, but I don't have that. I do have nice stoves ― I have a Garland at my house in San Francisco and a KitchenAid at my place in Sebastopol.

Favorite autumn foods:

Fall is my favorite time to cook. You start to see squash, and mushrooms, of course. Lots of pears, and quince is just lovely in the fall.

Cooking for kids:

If you feed them bland food, that's what they're going to want. My son, Eli, is 7 years old. He doesn't like green vegetables but will eat any kind of lettuce, any kind of herbs. He likes very flavorful foods.

Visit for more info on Des Jardins's three San Francisco restaurants. The Next Iron Chef premieres October 7 on Food Network.

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