The Top Chef Masters Season 3 finalist has a restaurant empire anchored by San Francisco’s Jardinière. She tells F&W’s Kate Krader about 10 obsessions, including her backgammon board made from old flip-flops.

November 17, 2011

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 Tips from Top Chef Stars

1. Mortar & Pestle

"I like quiet in my home kitchen; I hate to even hear a blender. So I love mortars and pestles, especially big granite ones. I have about nine now."

2. Workout Gear

"Icebreaker New Zealand Merino clothes are made of wool, not synthetics; they feel so great next to your skin."

3. Backgammon

"I started playing it as a kid. I collect backgammon boards during my travels. I found one in Africa made out of old flip-flops."

4. Roasted Beet Toasts

"For my version of the Danish open-face sandwiches called smorrebrod, I toast the bread to add texture. The roasted beet topping is vegetarian, but thinly sliced roast beef is nice as well."

5. Kenya

"I just took the trip of a lifetime there. I went on a thrilling helicopter ride, then an elephant was testy and threatened to charge. I realized that I like to be scared."

6. Sea Salt

"I like to travel with Maldon salt and fleur de sel. If there’s a threat of under-seasoning somewhere, I’ll bring salt."

 Tips from Top Chef Stars

More on Top Chef & Traci Des Jardins:

F&W Best New Chef 1995 Traci Des Jardins

Top Chef Recipes

Top Chef Video and Season Recaps