Posted on December 01 2013
I met Dominique Crenn when I attended the dinner/book signing of Chef Alex Atala in Oakland. I gave him a box of my chocolates and he suggested I speak with Dominique since we were few females in the culinary industry that owned and chef'd. I ignorantly asked her where she worked and had an entire conversation with her without any idea of her glory. I had saved an article from Eater.com in my inbox for later reading but the days turned into weeks and I never got to reading it.
It was about the only female chef/owner 2 Michelin star restaurant in the U.S.A. I obviously hadn't read the article otherwise I would have been nervous or have acted differently. My ignorance saved me. We chatted and I asked her for her phone number, again, I would have never asked had I known. We had a short and conversation about the role of women in the food industry; this was actually about 2 weeks before the article, "The Gods of Food" had been published by Time magazine. An article which omitted women completely from the timeline of great chefs.
Fast forward a few weeks and I made reservations but had no idea what to expect. Two months prior I had been in San Sebastian, Spain, where we dined at Mugaritz which is world famous for innovative and creative food. Before Mugaritz I had never been to a restaurant that played with science and art. Atelier Crenn reminded me of that experience especially with the dessert courses.
The menu read like a poem and the plates looked like art. It was fun guessing what would come next. It was an amazingly intimate experience; chef Crenn let me into her kitchen, walked me into Chef Contreras pastry kitchen and later came to speak with us during the dinner. You don't have to go to Spain to experience culinary innovation and creativity. It exists in San Francisco.
Since Chef Crenn was so attentive and generous I intend to pay her back with tributes of chocolate. The first tribute was a sampling set of Dandelion Chocolate: Madagascar, Venezuela, and Belize. I heard she would be more than happy to accept my tribute.
I wasn't able to photograph all the courses; believe it or not sometimes I am too shocked by creativity and beauty that I forget to document it.
I love the passion and dedication that goes into creating an experience. Do I remember everything that I ate? No. Do I remember all the flavors and scents? No. But I remember how I felt when I saw each plate placed in front of me. I remember the kitchen. I remember the calmness of the restaurant and staff. I remember Chef Crenn smiling and Chef Contreras coming to talk to me after I finished the last dessert. I remember feeling special. But of course the food was great and the desserts divine. But at the end, what I will return for is for them.
Chef Contreras and I have become good friends since then, I think. His constant curiosity for science and desserts has led him to ask me a lot of questions about chocolate which I am more than happy to answer.
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