Skip to page body Patient Care Survivorship Research Cancer Types News Giving Community Partners Clinical Trials
UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center

17th Annual Signature Fundraising Event

Taste for a Cure
Friday, April 20, 2012
Beverly Wilshire Hotel

Back to Chefs

Suzanne Tracht

Suzanne Tracht

Suzanne Tracht is among the rare group of American women chefs who have achieved the ultimate dream of owning their own restaurant. With Jar, her modern chophouse in the heart of Los Angeles, and Tracht’s in Long Beach, Tracht dazzles Angelenos with the allure of her familiar retro dishes from the American culinary repertoire. Her contemporary interpretation of dishes like Pork Belly and Chocolate Pudding prove that delicious food can also be unpretentious. “I love feeding people. We want guests to feel like they are in the ultimate living room, where they can have their favorite foods without pretence. I’ve always wanted to create a restaurant space where there’s a sense of community and neighborhood,” says Tracht. The faithful patronage and camaraderie among Suzanne Tracht’s guests are a fulfillment of her vision.

Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Suzanne’s epicurean journey began as a teenager when she apprenticed under renowned chef Siegbert Wendler at the four-star rated Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa. After three years, Suzanne moved to Southern California to pursue her culinary aspirations. She spent the late 1980s cooking in the kitchens of the Westin Century Plaza Hotel and Spa and the prestigious Hotel Bel-Air where she trained under the direction of Chef George Morrone. In 1991, Suzanne became sous chef at Noa Noa in Beverly Hills, among the earliest of the Cal-Asian fusion restaurants introducing flavors of the East to the West.

The following year, Tracht enthusiastically accepted the offer to work under the guidance of Mark Peel and Nancy Silverton in the kitchen at Campanile. This was a key move that placed Suzanne amongst the “who’s who” of Southern California’s most influential generation of chefs. Soon named the restaurant’s Chef de Cuisine, Tracht polished her earthy style of cuisine as she mastered the management tasks of running a busy kitchen. Even through the duress of working on the kitchen line until the final days of two consecutive pregnancies, Tracht acknowledges Campanile as one of the most valuable and intrinsic experiences of her career.

Suzanne’s next move came in 1996 when she launched her first solo venture as Executive Chef at Jozu. Her innovative menu of Cal-Asian dishes which blended bright flavors with an array of textures and spices, won multitude of accolades. It was here that she began to develop a true following. In its debut year, Jozu ranked number two for “L.A.’s Best New Restaurants” in Los Angeles magazine’s annual restaurant issue.

With the opening of Jar in 2001, Tracht realized her dream of owning and operating her own restaurant. Jar was her concept, and the public and critics became quick fans of what was to be among the first in the steakhouse rage across the United States. In addition to designing a menu with universal appeal, the restaurant was instantly embraced as a gathering place for locals.

Suzanne and her longtime Chef de Cuisine Preech Narkthong are responsible for re-inventing chophouse classics to reflect Tracht’s influences and technique. “Traditional steak houses don’t base their menus on the season, but at Jar, it’s our mission,” says Tracht. First-time diners who go to Jar for its prime quality meat cuts are often surprised to find the best vegetables dishes in Los Angeles hailing from the kitchen. Using traditional braising techniques as well as a range of Asian products available locally, Tracht turns out simple yet rich “Sides” of Brussels Sprouts, Creamed Corn, Sautéed Pea Tendrils and Japanese Purple Potatoes memorable in their purity.

In 2002, Food and Wine magazine honored Tracht with a well deserved spot among the Best New Chefs of the year. Jar has received stellar reviews in Los Angeles, Angeleno and the Los Angeles Times. In her three star review of the restaurant, Los Angeles Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila says, “Tracht’s attention to detail sets Jar apart. It's not only good, it's absolutely reliable. How rare is that?” Brad Johnson of Angeleno gives Jar four stars saying, “I can’t think of anyone who makes a better pot roast than Tracht.” Patric Kuh gives Suzanne the highest accolades in his review of Jar. “Suzanne Tracht has a French sense of proportion, and Italian appreciation of minimal intervention, and a Japanese awareness of modulation. She might have the most finely tuned and modern sensibility of any cook working in L.A.,” says Kuh in his review for Los Angeles magazine, December 2005. Kuh also named Jar as one of Los Angeles’ top 25 restaurants in Los Angeles magazine’s January 2005 issue.

In addition to Food and Wine, Angeleno, Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Times, Tracht has been prominently featured in the New York Times Magazine, LA Weekly, Los Angeles Confidential, Angeleno, More, GQ, Elle, New York, Variety and InStyle. Tracht has also appeared on the Today Show, Food Network, Entertainment Tonight, Extra, E!, KABC, KNBC, KCAL, and Fox News. Tracht, well recognized among the leading women chefs in the United States, was inducted into the Fine Dining Hall of Fame by Nation’s Restaurant News in May 2007.

Suzanne opened her second venture, Tracht’s, at the Renaissance Hotel Long Beach in July 2007. The restaurant, which received outstanding reviews in both the Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register and was named among the top new restaurants of 2007 by Citysearch, is destined for success. An exciting new concept, Suzpree, a modern oyster bar and noodle house, is scheduled to open in Los Angeles 2009.

In light of the success that the kitchen has brought her, Chef Tracht believes in giving back to her community of local organizations, fellow chefs and restaurateurs. She donates her time to innumerable charitable events including the Bon Appétit Wines and Spirits Focus, Cooking for a Cause, Planned Parenthood, the Culinary Winemasters for Cystic Fibrosis, the Environmental Media Awards, and Taste of the Nation for Share Our Strength. She has participated in Fortune magazine’s Most Powerful Women Summit in 2003 and 2005 and has appeared at the prestigious James Beard House to cook a tasting dinner of her restaurant’s signature dishes.

Tracht has also participated at the annual Bon Appétit Culinary and Wine Focus at the Beaver Creek Resort in Vail; in Fall 2008, she will host the Culinary Arts Voyage aboard the prestigious Silversea Cruiseline, embarking from Los Angeles and traveling to exotic destinations in Central America.

In her spare time, Suzanne shares activities with her two teenage children, Ida and Max, who often can be seen doing their homework at Jar. She unwinds from the intensity of running two busy restaurants with Pilates classes, hiking in the nearby Hollywood Hills, and riding her bike at the beach.

Last updated: 3/21/2012 10:16:40 AM