Flash-grilled: Dominique Crenn

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Dominique Crenn Atelier Crenn Icon Award trophy The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021

Related tags: Dominique Crenn, Chef, worlds50best, 50 Best

The renowned French chef, who received the Icon Award trophy at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021 this week, on her earliest food memory, first industry job, and signature dish.

What was your first industry job?
Making sandwiches at a tennis club in Paris. It was my summer job.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
Photography.

What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
No one in particular. It’s unfair for me to only highlight certain people because the people that inspire me are thinking outside of the box, they are doing the right thing and with purpose. They are not only looking at the craft, but at the ecosystem as a whole.

Pet hate in the kitchen?
Egos.

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
When I approached the table, the guest asked me to give their regards to the chef and to tell HIM that the menu was amazing. “Give him my regards," they said. I replied: "Of course, I will, the chef is a woman and you're speaking to her."

Sum up your cooking style in a single sentence…
Poetry on the plate.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
Fire. 

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Anything from my mother’s kitchen.

Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
Hate and inequality - not just for one day, they need to be banned forever.

Who would your dream dinner party guests be?
Nina Simone, Jacinda Ardern, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Whitney Houston, Nelson Mandela, Albert Einstein, and Salvador Dali, 

What’s your earliest food memory?
Picking a ripe tomato and eating it in the middle of our family garden, in the warm sun.

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
Home with my fiancé, Maria. Dancing and cooking dinner together.

What do you consider your signature dish?
A Walk in the Forest [served at the three-Michelin-starred Atelier Crenn in San Francisco]. It reminds me of my childhood; of my father and my brother, and our long walks in the forest.

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
I don’t read reviews and I'm not interested in what they have to say. I care about my guests and their experience. However, the best review I ever received was from a little five-year old girl who came to eat at Atelier.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Be confident, curious and follow your heart. You will only be happy if you are true to what you believe and if you do what’s best for you.

Dominique Crenn received the Icon Award trophy at the official ceremony for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, which took place in Antwerp, Flanders, earlier this week. To find out who made the list and was crowned The World's Best Restaurant, click here​.

Related topics: Chef, People, Profiles

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