In opening Atelier Crenn in San Francisco, French-born Dominique Crenn implemented a very personal project in January 2011. In October of the same year the restaurant had already received its first Michelin star, and the second followed in 2012. Thus, she is the very first woman in America whose art of cookery has been crowned with this high award. Besides numerous further distinctions, Dominique Crenn was honoured a few months ago with the title of ‘Best Female Chef 2016’ by the jurors of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants List. At Atelier Crenn, the ‘art of cookery’ can be experienced in the truest sense of the word: the restaurant embodies Dominque Crenn’s origins and her cultural heritage, and is at the same time an ode to ‘lyrical gastronomy’. Like in an artist’s or a creative designer’s studio, the master chef repeatedly realizes here her vision of sophisticated French cuisine. A vision led by art, as well as scientific research and precisely executed cookery skills. Instead of a classical menu card, she composes a poem for each of her dishes, allowing the guests to get into the right mood – as they read each line – for her creations. ‘Life is a poem; cooking and feeding people is an act of vulnerability. An expression of yourself to share with others’, is how Dominique Crenn explains her philosophy.
She deliberately sets no limits for herself and her team when creating the dishes. Ingredients and techniques are mixed arbitrarily – with the sole aim of offering the guests a new flavour experience that exceeds everything they have known.
At Atelier Crenn, the unmistakable French influence in the kitchen, her imaginative gastronomic flair, as well as her originality at the stove, reflect the unique story of the life of the two-star chef. Growing up with the culinary richness of France and the celebration of fine food by her parents, Dominique Crenn discovered very early her strong interest in gastronomy. She attributes the learning of cooking to her mother, while her father and his friend – a respected restaurant critic – awoke her passion for high-end gastronomy. Thanks to these two gourmets, Dominique Crenn got to know and appreciate the fine, subtle nuances and the exceptional aromas of haute cuisine during her numerous visits to renowned restaurants in all parts of Europe.
As a graduate of the Cours Charlemagne in Paris and after completing a bachelor’s degree in international business, Dominque Crenn travelled the world and became familiar with ingredients from different cultures that she uses in her own cuisine, and which contribute to the culinary delicacies in her restaurant. In San Francisco she completed her training to become a cook. Then she worked under Jeremiah Tower and Mark Franz at the Star restaurant, and later in other renowned restaurants, such as the Campton Place, the 2223 Market and the Park Hyatt Grill. In 1997, the kitchen of the Intercontinental hotel in Jakarta was headed by Dominque Crenn, which not only gave her experience but also the title of ‘first female master chef of Indonesia’. After her return in 1998 and a ten-year stop in Los Angeles, the French native ran the Luce restaurant at the Intercontinental Hotel San Francisco for two years – and did so highly successfully, receiving her first Michelin star in 2009.