Watching Dominique Crenn walk down the street, you’d think her a petite model, certainly ethnically European, with an air of sophisticated style and artistic energy. With thick black hair and french features, she could be a painter, a musician or an actress.
What you wouldn’t expect is that she’s on her way to command a kitchen of artistic cuisine creation. Crenn is a world renowned chef, known for her numerous Michelin stars, her victory over Michael Symon on Iron Chef America in 2010 and inspiring the female chef character Colette Tatou in the Disney smash hit “Ratatouille.”
Crenn was adopted and raised in Versailles, France. She attributes much of her passion to her parents. Her mother introduced her to the culinary arts as a young child and her father took her on exquisite dining excursions to top-rated restaurants. However, she also credits her innate flavor palette to her more spice-laden heritage (her birth father was from Morocco).
As Crenn grew, she traveled extensively, and to this day, her travels constantly inform and inspire her creations as she uses and fuses ingredients and methods from different cultures. As quoted on foodnetwork.com, Crenn says, “Having had the opportunity to observe and learn from some of the most beautiful cultures in the world throughout my life, I reflect these experiences in my cuisine by marrying diverse flavors and natural ingredients together to please the palate.”
Crenn moved to San Francisco in 1988 and began her formal training as a chef. She fell in love with the city and remained, working with taste titans like Jeremiah Tower and Mark Franz. “I came to San Francisco, and the moment I got here, I just felt like it was home,” she tells SFGate.
In 1997, she moved to Jakarta, and became the first female executive chef in the country, working at the Intercontinental Hotel. It was a short stint, lasting only a year, before Crenn had to return to California due to political turmoil in Indonesia.
Crenn is driven by her passion, competitive spirit, and creative calling. The name of her new restaurant, located in San Francisco, is “Atelier Crenn.” The name is derived from her childhood memories of her father’s painting studio, which he called his “atelier.” The word can be translated to mean a workshop or studio for an artist or designer. Crenn is certainly both of these things, applying similar principles to her food, which has been described as artwork of the highest caliber. The menu is transfused with Crenn’s own poetry, and the walls adorned with paintings from Papa Crenn.
Atelier Crenn has just debuted a new menu beginning November 1, which includes three options for diners to choose from: the Chef’s 5 Course Menu, Chef’s Grand Tasting menu, and the Chef’s Vegetable Tasting menu. The courses themselves are not listed, only a long tableaux of ingredients included in the dishes. As the sparse menu states, their passion is to deliver a truly unique dining experience through inspired dishes. Every day, they are rediscovering their signature cuisine.
The restaurant, located on 3127 Fillmore Street in the Cow Hollow district of San Francisco, is open Tuesday through Saturday from 6-10pm. Visit the site here for more information.