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.
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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."

Swiss skis

© Stockli Ski USA

7. Skis

"Stöckli are beautiful, top-end Swiss skis. I have a sort of museum when it comes to skis, including ones that date back to the ’80s."

8. Baseball

"I became a Giants fan when I opened a restaurant in their ballpark. I relaunched it as Public House and Mijita last year, and the Giants won the World Series."

9. Charity

"La Cocina in San Francisco is an incubator business for immigrant women. It’s so amazing—it’s the coolest nonprofit on the planet."

La Pavonis coffee maker

Courtesy of La Pavonis

10. Coffee

"I’m obsessed with all things coffee. I have three La Pavonis [top-of-the-line espresso machines]. If I weren’t a chef, I would be a barista."

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Tips from Top Chef Stars

More on Top Chef & Traci Des Jardins:

F&W Best New Chef 1995 Traci Des Jardins
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| Credit: ANTONIS ACHILLEOS
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