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Flavor Profile: Atelier Crenn’s Dominique Crenn

Photo by Aubrie Prick 

Hot on the heels of a kitchen-and-menus revamp at Atelier Crenn, the French native and America’s only female chef with two Michelin stars is penning her first book—part cookbook, part memoir—due out in 2015. Here, she answers our burning questions:

Favorite ingredient:

Tomatoes—they are full of surprises. Their sweetness, juiciness, and luxurious taste are so inspiring.

Most overrated ingredient:

Kale.

Dream album while cooking:

Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 8 in A Minor, K. 310.

What would you request for your last meal?

My mother’s tomato salad, oysters, and a glass of Riesling.

What most influences your food?

Culture and nature.

Favorite don’t-tell-anyone junk food:

In-N-Out Burger.

Strangest customer request?

Ketchup.

When did you first know you wanted to be a chef?

I was eight years old, I told my mother I wanted to be a chef. 

Favorite local spots:

Cotton Sheep in Hayes Valley, Bar Tartine in the Mission, and the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero.

Tricks of the trade:

Be gracious and knowledgeable with your guest, yet friendly and approachable.

Best thing you’ve eaten in SF:

Steak tartare at Bar Tartine.

What do you make for yourself to eat at home?

Grilled goat or sheep cheese sandwich.

Greatest indulgence:

Chocolate.

What motivates you?

People.

Food trend you’re on board with:

I do not like food trends.

Food trend that needs to die:

The cronut craze.

What is your motto

Calmness.

Which living culinary person do you most admire?

Michel Bras.

Favorite food as a kid:

Crepes with Nutella and banana.

Who do you most admire?

My father.

Favorite midnight snack?

Chocolate

Whom do you most like to cook for?   

Every guest that comes into my restaurant.

What’s in your refrigerator?

Pickles, coconut water, raspberry jam, goat butter, bagels, cream cheese, chocolate…and much more.

 Where do you go for a good drink and what do you order?

Bar Tartine, glass of wine or two—preferably white or rosé.

Go-to takeout:

Out the Door.

Bay Area restaurants on your list to try:

Akikos Restaurant, Tosca.

Favorite pairing:

Oysters and Riesling.

Weirdest thing you've ever eaten:

Sea cucumber.

If you weren't a chef, you'd be….?

A photographer.

Any dietary restrictions?

Peanuts allergy.

Happiest food moment?

At my parent’s dining table.

Customer pet peeves?

Using their phone during their meal.

Favorite culinary journey?

Spain.

Describe your kitchen persona in one word.

Confident.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

A ballerina.

How far would you travel for a killer meal? Where to?

Japan/Kyoto.

What’s the first meal you made that made you proud?

The first time I cooked for my mother and father.

Most treasured possession?

My dog, Maximus. He is not a possession but he is my little treasure.

Greatest professional moment?

Working with my pastry chef Juan Contreras.

What’s next?

The future is a funny place to ponder since in so many ways I have finally gotten to that place that I have always thought of as where my future could take me. So in some sense I am tempted to say, I am already here. On the other hand, getting to this place has also made me realize how there is indeed so much more. So the dreaming goes on I see...I think for right now I want to give all of myself to Atelier Crenn, begin working on my first book, which I feel deserves to be written, and do my very best to steward those who are coming up as I was stewarded.

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This article was published in 7x7's April issue. Click here to subscribe.