Acclaimed Chef Dominique Crenn may have been touted as the “Worlds Best Female Chef”, yet it’s what behind her success that truly matters. Crenn takes pride in her unique culinary vision and her team, which is reflected in the beauty that is created and plated when dining at her Michelin Star Restaurant Atelier Crenn, in San Francisco, California. North American Traveller chats with Crenn on how she stays inspired and what advice she gives to aspiring chefs.
Chef Dominique Crenn: Confident Cuisine That Inspires
NA Traveller: You really put an emphasis as a chef on working as a team when it comes to your successes. How important is that to you?
Dominique Crenn: As leaders we have to take this approach. This attitude is very important because you can’t be a great leader if you don’t believe in the team that you have. It’s been my motto for a long, long time. The way that you inspire others is because others can inspire you. My team inspires me, so I have to be 100% behind them. If not then I don’t believe in my product or I don’t believe in myself. At the end of the day we are here to create things together.
NA Traveller: You are a role model to many aspiring chefs. What advice would you give to them to stay the course in an often competitive and challenging business?
Dominique Crenn: You have to be confident and know who you are and where you want to go. You are not in this craft to get accolades; you are doing it because there is a purpose for it. You are dealing with food, you are dealing with people, you are dealing with the planet and making people happy. You have to be sure this is what you want to do, but you have to be confident. There is a challenge in everything that we do in life, but when you believe in yourself you can do anything you want. But do it with care, thoughtfulness and purpose.
TM Traveller: Your dishes are often whimsical and delicate with so many natural elements added to them. Would you say what you create is almost romanticized in a way? Where does your inspiration come from?
Dominique Crenn: You need to look at things and really enjoy the beauty of nature. I think we have to be connected to everything that surrounds us. Also with things that allow us to do the craft that we want to do. For me it is normal to embrace and celebrate nature; I would not be here today without nature’s help.
NA Traveller: Your restaurant Atelier Crenn has a rather distinct concept – you even incorporate poetry into the multi-course menu. Did the concept evolve over time, or did you have a set vision from the start?
Dominique Crenn: I think everything is about evolution and poetry is a part of life. I had the idea in my head and I had the vision. My vision was very clear at the beginning to be able to learn more and be a better person at it every day. We are where we are today because we share experiences, and also educated people, but also make them understand our wonders, our dreams our visions when eating our food. At the end of the day it’s really bringing people together. Creating beautiful things with inspiring moments every day, understanding our mistakes and how we can do better. Understanding how can we also help others create a beautiful culture in what the industry is giving us.
NA Traveller: With such a hectic schedule how do you stay refreshed and recharged?
Dominique Crenn: I don’t have a day off, but I am lucky enough to travel and feel inspired and inspire others. I think museums, theatre, music and nature are the places I like to go to get my mind into a different place.