Chef Spotlight: Dominique Crenn

If you’re looking for an inspired food experience, look no further than the culinary stylings of Dominique Crenn. And yes I do mean INSPIRED and yes I absolutely do mean STYLE. Just take a look at that stunning shot of her tattoo up there. Style is just one of those things that when you have it, it permeates everything you do in life. So it’s not too surprising to find that her food has a lot in common with her ink. They’re both playful, edgy, clean, based in tradition (flying pigs!), both have just a touch of introversion and both are, without a doubt, $iiiick. The Wooden Table was lucky enough to score seats at her tasting menu while she was at Luce (loo-chay) and the memory of that first bite of her “Sea” course still haunts me (in the best way possible) . . . c’├ętait incroyable.

In addition to being an amazing chef, I’m pretty sure that the character of Colette Tatou (of Ratatouille fame) was based on Dominique Crenn. She certainly has the swagger to match, her skills are Disney-perfect and she’s legendarily tough in the kitchen. (oh yeah, and she’s French)

To say that she started developing a refined palate at an early age would be an understatement, at 18 months she was adopted into a flavor-forward family living in Brittany, France. Her father rubbed elbows with some of France’s premiere food writers. She was regularly exploring exotic world cuisines with her sublime cook of a mother and dining in Michelin-rated establishments by 8 years old. After her mother passed away she took over the house hold cooking duties . . . at the age of 9.

At 21 she moved to San Francisco and landed at Stars with chef Mark Franz and pastry chef Emily Luchetti (now both at Farallon). She was later recruited to the Intercontinental Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia where she was the first female executive chef of the country and assembled an all-female team of local women to work in her kitchen.

After her stretch in Jakarta she returned to San Francisco where she took up the mantle at the kitchen of Luce. In 2009,2010, and 2011 she earned Luce a Michelin star.

Dominique Crenn’s latest endeavor is Atelier Crenn, named for her late father’s impressionist-style workshop. Her fare has been described as fanatically seasonal and progressive (even by progressive standards), a Waters/Adria-esque love child. She’s big on style and concept (her own poetry adorns the walls and menus of the restaurant). The dining room at Atelier Crenn boasts a live fig tree which will continue to grow, providing a shady respite for diners to enjoy. The Wooden Table is certainly looking forward to our next Crenn experience.

referenced articles:
SF Gate – Dominique Crenn of Luce
Elle – Turning the Tables: Atelier Crenn’s Dominique Crenn

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