Dominique Crenn, chef at two Michelin star restaurant Atelier Crenn in San Francisco’s Cow Hollow district, focuses on cuisine as a craft and uses the community as an inspiration for her work. Based on the French word for studio, restaurant Atelier Crenn can be defined as chef Crenn's workshop, especially for her artistry and design. This is a concept driven by chef Crenn’s modern vision for fine-French cuisine, where art is at the forefront. Crenn’s highly distinctive French heritage, imaginative gastronomic flair, and proven originality behind the stove at Atelier Crenn reflect her unique life story. From her beginnings in Versailles, France, to her most recent accolades - the title of EsquireMagazine’s 2008 “Chef of the Year,” her recent win on Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” - Crenn has built a solid reputation both nationally and internationally for her artisanal, sustainable and seasonal cuisine.
Growing up in France, Crenn developed a keen interest in cuisine from her parents who celebrated fine dining. While Crenn credits her mother for her early introduction to the culinary arts, she also attributes her passion for fine fare to her politician father and his best friend (a well-respected French food critic) from whom she learned to appreciate the subtle nuances and unique flavours of great cuisine during their numerous sojourns to Europe’s best restaurants. A graduate of the Cours Charlemagne in Paris with a Baccalaureate in Economics and a bachelor’s degree in International Business from the Academy of International Commerce of Paris, Crenn has travelled extensively learning to use ingredients from different cultures to provide her guests with endless culinary pleasures.
Crenn began her formal training as a chef when she moved to San Francisco in 1988. During this time she worked under the tutelage of San Francisco luminaries Jeremiah Tower and Mark Franz at the celebrated restaurant Stars. She later worked at restaurants such as Campton Place, 2223 Market, the Park Hyatt Grill and Yoyo Bistro at the Miyako Hotel.
In 1997, Crenn made culinary history as the first female executive chef in Indonesia, heading the kitchen at the Intercontinental Hotel in Jakarta. Due to the political turmoil in South East Asia, she returned to California in 1998 as executive chef at the Manhattan Country Club, in Manhattan Beach for eight years and then served as the opening chef at Abode Restaurant & Lounge in Santa Monica. Returning to San Francisco in 2008, Crenn headed the kitchen at Luce in San Francisco’s Intercontinental Hotel where she earned her first Michelin star in 2009 and again in 2010. Crenn’s passion to create a deeply personal project led her to open Atelier Crenn in January 2011, as the restaurant’s concept embodies both her heritage and an ode to “poetic culinaria.” Less than a year after opening, Atelier Crenn achieved its first Michelin star in October 2011. In October 2013 Atelier Crenn received their two Michelin stars. In 2012, Chef Crenn made history of being the first female chef in United States to received two Michelin Stars. In February 2013, Chef Crenn was nominated semi-finalists for Best Chef: West by the James Beard Awards.
Outside of the kitchen, Crenn serves on panels and boards with local and nationally acclaimed sustainable food activists and participates in special events such as “Outstanding in the Field” and Share Our Strength’s “Taste of the Nation.” She is also the founder and driving force behind "A Moveable Feast," a series of dinners honouring CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) that pairs prominent local chefs with produce from a single local farm. In October 2011, Crenn was featured in W Magazine as one of the “25 most Talented Up-and-Comers” and she continues to gain recognition and praise for her innovative techniques and complex dishes at Atelier Crenn.
- 2 Michelin stars, Atelier Crenn
- 1 Michelin star, Luce
- Best Chef: West, James Beard Award, semi-finalist 2013
- Winner of Iron Chef America, 2012
- Chef of the Year, Esquire magazine, 2008
Describe your culinary philosophy in 5 words...
Sincerity, humility, discovery, engaging, inspiring
What is your greatest inspiration?
Much of the inspiration I receive that fuels me to create comes from way deep inside of me and just the act of being inspired, having breath breathed into me, can only come from a sincere experience of something whether that is a film I see, a hike I take, a painting I see or sounds I hear.
If you could take a plan ride to any restaurant in the world, just for one meal, where would you go?
Quique Dacosta, Denia, Spain.
What three things would you take to a desert island?
A piano, Sancerre wine ( a year's supply) and my scratch book.
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