The First Lady of Two-Star Michelin: Chef Dominique Crenn

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Chef Dominique Crenn has achieved quite an impressive feat—just weeks ago, she became the first female chef to earn two Michelin stars with her acclaimed San Francisco restaurant, Atelier Crenn. The French-born Crenn considers herself to be an artist of the culinary world. She has mastered the art of ethereal concepts paired with phenomenal ingredients to create a style of cooking that she calls “poetic culinaria”.

 I like to dine at other chef’s restaurants in the city. I’ve been dining at Rich Table and Commonwealth lately. I like to support my colleagues.

How did you begin your career in the culinary world?

I am self-taught. Food is my passion, so I taught myself and found my own vision.

What restaurants had you been previous employed?

I was at Luce, Campton place and many others. I worked at places in Los Angeles that weren’t well known. I really didn’t study under any well-known chefs except for when I worked under Jeremiah Tower (of San Francisco’s Stars Restaurant).

What appetizer, entrée and dessert dishes are you best known for?

Well first, I write a poem before I serve my menu. I think “The Sea” is a favorite dish. It is an interpretation of the ocean with a lot of seafood on the plate. I cook it in a very Japanese and Zen way— it is very reminiscent of the sea.

As far as another favorite entrée goes, the “Walk in the Forest” represents the feelings you have in the forest. There is sweetness, bitterness and pureness. I use mushroom because it is very earthy. It is all about the mushroom’s texture and flavor. I think this dish will stay on the menu forever.

For dessert, my pastry chef is outstanding. The beet dessert is a favorite. The root is made with dehydrated beets and chocolate. A lot of people talk about this dish.

What is the secret to running a successful restaurant?

Don’t stress out. Success is subjective. Financially, to be successful, it takes a long time. I wanted to create and build a team of talented people around me from the front to the back of the house. I wanted people to believe in the concept.

When you’re not running your own restaurant, where can we find you dining?

Everywhere. I like to dine at other chef’s restaurants in the city. I’ve been dining at Rich Table and Commonwealth lately. I like to support my colleagues.

What are your favorite foods and drinks?

For drinks, I like Sightglass and also Four Barrel Coffee. I also love to hang at the Zuni Café. For food, I like Japanese and Vietnamese cooking.

List the five most important ingredients one should have at their disposal.

Sea salt, vinegar, good olive oil, herbs— I like thyme and cilantro, and tomato. If I could add a sixth, it would be chocolate.

Atelier Crenn
3127 Fillmore Street
San Francisco, CA 94123
(415) 440-0460
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