Traci Des Jardins is a California native and the James Beard Award-winning chef/owner of Jardinière, Public House and Mijita in San Francisco.
"I always, always barbecue my turkey. I grew up in California's Central Valley in a family of hunters, and Thanksgiving was a huge holiday for us — we started Wednesday night and went until Sunday. The barbecue was constantly going, and that's a tradition I've hung onto. Also, it helps clear up oven space! Otherwise, I like to try and put a unique California spin on my menu by counterbalancing the rich, heavy mainstays like turkey and stuffing with lots of fresh, seasonal salads."
Serve it with: "When green beans are available, I love combining them with Fuyu persimmons and a light vinaigrette. I also do a warm dish of Brussels sprouts tossed with brown butter and whole-grain mustard. And my stuffing has evolved over the years, but it is so fantastic now, I'm not changing it: It's full of chanterelles, chestnuts, leeks and gizzards from ducks raised by Liberty Farms, which is a great producer here in California."
Pro tip: "Thanksgiving tends to be an all-day affair — so it's good to offer a light lunch or simple starter. I sometimes make a big crudite platter alongside cracked Dungeness crab with Sriracha mayo."
Thanksgiving Across America
We asked chefs across the country for their favorite traditional Thanksgiving recipes.