Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn and Petit Crenn in San Francisco has been named The World’s Best Female Chef 2016. She will be honoured at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street in New York on June 13th.
The French-born chef’s flagship restaurant in the city’s Cow Hollow district has gained huge critical acclaim since opening in 2011, with Crenn giving full expression to her philosophy of ‘poetic culinaria’. The highly artistic menus are written as poems, with both the food and verses changing seasonally, while the minimalist décor includes select pieces of artwork painted by the chef’s father. Last year the 51-year-old added a second more casual destination, Petit Crenn, to her portfolio as a more rustic foil to her ultra-refined first restaurant.
William Drew, Group Editor of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, said, “We are proud and excited to announce Dominique Crenn as this year’s World’s Best Female Chef, celebrating her many achievements. Dominique is a distinguished and highly impressive chef, having already accomplished many firsts as a female cook, paving the way for future generations. Dominique’s passion for local produce, sustainability and dedication to the profession make her the perfect recipient of this award.”
Crenn responded to the news of the accolade by saying “It is a great honor to be chosen as The World’s Best Female Chef 2016 by my peers and the people I’ve had the pleasure to cook for. I’ve been inspired by many of the past winners of this award and so it’s a great pleasure to join their ranks and to hopefully motivate cooks around the world to work hard, be creative and achieve great things. I am proud to share this award with my chef family, the teams at Atelier Crenn and Petit Crenn, without whom this accolade would not be possible.”
The World’s Best Female Chef programme is designed to shine a light on a rarefied family of extraordinary female chefs. The award celebrates the work of a woman whose cooking most impresses the world’s toughest critics and most venerated chefs, almost 1,000 of whom voted in this category.
As a winner of The World’s Best Female Chef Award, Dominique Crenn joins a group of exceptionally talented chefs including luminaries Helena Rizzo of Brazilian restaurant Mani, Elena Arzak of Spain’s Arzak, Anne-Sophie Pic of Maison Pic in France, Nadia Santini of Dal escatore in the Italian countryside and last year’s winner, Hélène Darroze of London’s Hélène Darroze at The Connaught and Hélène Darroze in Paris.
Dominique Crenn’s career
Growing up in the vast culinary landscape of France, Dominique Crenn developed a keen interest in cuisine from her parents. While she credits her mother for an early introduction to the culinary arts, she attributes her appreciation of gastronomy to her politician father and his best friend, a well-respected food critic for the French newspaper, Le Télégramme, from whom she learned about subtle nuances and unique flavours of fine food during their numerous sojourns to some of Europe’s best restaurants.
Crenn, a graduate of the Cours Charlemagne in Paris and the Academy of International Commerce of Paris with degrees in Economics and International Business respectively, has extensively travelled the world, tasting unique and interesting ingredients along the way. Her travels took her to San Francisco where she fell in love with the Bay Area and decided to make it her home.
In 1988, Crenn began her impressive kitchen career at the much-celebrated Stars, spending two years under the tutelage of San Francisco luminaries Jeremiah Tower and Mark Franz. In the years that followed she honed her skills at San Francisco culinary mainstays Campton Place, 2223 Market, the Park Hyatt Grill and Yoyo Bistro at the Miyako Hotel, before heading to Indonesia to head the kitchen at the Intercontinental Hotel in Jakarta in 1997.
It was at the Intercontinental Hotel that Crenn made her first of many marks in culinary history, becoming the first female executive chef in Indonesia. Due to the political turmoil in South East Asia, she returned to California in 1998 as executive chef at the Manhattan Country Club in Manhattan Beach for eight years, then serving as opening chef at Abode Restaurant & Lounge in Santa Monica. Returning to San Francisco in 2008, Crenn headed the kitchen at Luce in the Intercontinental Hotel, where she earned her first Michelin star in 2009.
A profound passion for gastronomy and a desire to create a deeply personal project led Crenn to open Atelier Crenn in January 2011. Less than a year after opening, the restaurant achieved its first Michelin star in October 2011. In 2012, chef Crenn made her second mark in culinary history by becoming the first female chef in the United States to receive two Michelin stars.
The name Atelier Crenn is inspired by ‘Atelier Papa Crenn’, a studio behind her family home in north western France where her late father painted pictures inspired by natural seascapes, landscapes and food grown on the family’s farms. The menu features locally sourced produce from the Bay Area and draws on culinary traditions from around the world including her parents’ birthplace: Brittany, France. Crenn’s signature dish and the only constant on her poetic menus since the restaurant’s inception is the Kir Breton, a whimsical take on Brittany’s variation of the Kir Royale and a clever unification of an aperitif and amuse-bouche.
As well as being named The World’s Best Female Chef 2016, Crenn serves on many panels and boards with local and nationally acclaimed sustainable food activists and participates in special events such as ‘Outstanding in the Field’ and Share Our Strength’s ‘Taste of the Nation’. She is also the founder and driving force behind ‘A Movable Feast’, a series of dinners honouring CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) that pairs prominent local chefs with produce from a single farm. Crenn is the 2012 winner of the Food Network’s Iron Chef America.