Dominique Crenn on ‘Chef’s Table’: ‘It’s Not About Me Cooking’

Dominique Crenn
jessica chou for Variety

In its second season, Netflix’s “Chef’s Table” visits Dominique Crenn. She’s the only female chef in the U.S. to garner two Michelin stars, for her innovative modernist San Francisco restaurant Atelier Crenn. Created by David Gelb, the director of “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” the series goes far beyond a typical food show, blending exquisitely photographed dishes with deep conversations about the chefs’ lives and influences. Raised in Brittany, Crenn also presides over a second restaurant, Petit Crenn, and will be cooking at the Desert Trip music festival.

How was this experience different from other TV you had done such as “Iron Chef”?

I didn’t think it was about food, it was about something so much deeper. I spent a lot of time with the director and the team, it was just about getting to know each other. It’s important to bring some transparency of the person who you are. It’s not about me cooking, it’s about me being a human, getting into my emotions, my way of thinking.

What can viewers take away from the episode, even if they never get to your restaurants?

It’s a platform for me to express that you can do whatever you dream to do, you just have to go for it. It’s not about perfection, it’s about evolution. Maybe it can help young women — I hope it can inspire a lot of them.

Why do you provide diners with a poem as part of their meals?

I’m very strong but also very sensitive, very connected to everything that has to do with memory and emotion. It’s a window of who I am. I’ve never been trained as a chef, I was lucky enough to have incredible parents who gave me the chance to look at the world through art and literature and politics — it’s a continuation. We live in a poetic world.

Do chefs these days face too much pressure to become media personalities?

As a chef, you need to understand who you are — you have to use the branding or any other things as a tool to continue what you’re doing. But don’t get too much over your head, the core of who you are is to cook. I’m at Atelier Crenn basically every night, I connect with each of my guests, it’s super-important. It’s such a hard job to do — you have to really make sure you have your head on your shoulders so you don’t get burned.

You’re cooking at Desert Trip – Is it possible to experience good food at a music festival? 

Food and music and poetry — everything comes together. I’ll be having fun, not trying to be too serious. When you think about it it makes sense — food can be a type of song, you feel it in your heart and your tummy. You have to make sure that there is a lot of water. When I think about those kind of events, it’s about bringing different art forms together. Maybe I’ll do something crazy — maybe I’ll do a cocktail!

How are San Francisco and Los Angeles different as restaurant cities?

San Francisco was a special place to be. A lot of things started here: political movements, Alice Waters, spotlighting farmers, wineries. This is a progressive city, with a lot of diversity. San Francisco has people thinking outside of the box, it’s is always at the forefront of new stuff.

Los Angeles is getting a lot of incredible talent and restaurants, and it’s ready for it. L.A. has a different type of lifestyle. I would love to do something in L.A. that would feed what Los Angeles is about. I would love to do Petit Crenn if someone would let me. I love Los Angeles.

 

 

 

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