Dominique Crenn, who hails from Versailles, has quickly, and justly, risen to fame for her outstanding cooking. With two stars from the Michelin Guide, for her restaurant Atelier Crenn in California, she was put on the map as the highest-ranked female chef in the nation. She traveled across Europe to learn cooking styles and secrets from various cultures, never attending culinary school. In 1988, she made San Francisco her home, training as a chef and slowly forming an impressive résumé- working at the notable Stars, Campton Place, 2223 Market, Park Hyatt Grill, and Yoko Bistro at the Miyako Hotel. She has catered events for a number of celebrities, including Cindy Lauper, Juliette Binoche, and Sidney Poitier.
Currently, Crenn is busy with more than just cooking. She has a comedy show in the works, which will be based on her experiences. Once it is produced, she plans to stream it online. Crenn’s philanthropic nature is visible in her formation of Root Project, a tree-planting program in Haiti. This project, supported by Phillip Lim, Andrew Zimmern, and Martha Stewart, plans on bringing 1 million coffee and cacao trees to the area. The devastation of Hurricane Matthew deeply affected farmers and their livelihoods. Crenn believes that by assisting farmers, “it opens up a world of possibilities for future growth.” In addition, she is involved in a project to feed the homeless edible food waste, with a gourmet flair.
“We live in a poetic world.” – Dominique Crenn
In 2008, Crenn was lauded Best Chef of the Year in Esquire Magazine. In 2016, she was honored with the title of the World’s Best Female Chef, by San Pellegrino’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. This year, her popular San Francisco restaurant was ranked 83rd on the same list. The experience defies expectations- guests receive an original poem in lieu of a menu. The poetry hints at each dish, which are a visual masterpiece and a culinary delight. Dinner, which includes the cost of service, is $325 for one guest, paid in advance. They offer optional wine pairings for an additional fee. While the cost is high, the restaurant stays busy and popular. Crenn does not merely offer fine dining, but an experience.
In an industry dominated by males, this female restaurateur challenges stereotypes. Embracing modernist cooking in her successful restaurant has led to international recognition and respect. While she takes issue with being named a top female chef, she is undeterred and believes that “being a chef is about feeding people.” To the delight of San Francisco, Crenn continues to do just that. With a unique flair and discerning palate, Dominique Crenn is a chef to watch.