The honorary prize for Best Female Chef, awarded by the same people behind the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, has a new winner this year – French molecular gastronomist (if we can use such a word) Dominique Crenn. Take the ‘molecular’ part with a caveat, though, because putting a term like that on Crenn may be narrowing down the full scope of her abilities.
While the dishes she runs at her two Michelin-starred Atelier Crenn are viewed as playful works of art or gastronomic poetry, she still professes an influence from her mother’s rural home cooking. Last year, she branched out into a second restaurant called Petit Crenn, which, as the name suggest, aims for a more restrained and homely feeling rather than complex cuisine. Both these restaurant types outline her gastronomic worldview.
To be able to hold fast to both types of cuisine, maintaining the creativity and her own unique vision, as a female in a male-dominated industry, warrants Crenn her entry into the World’s 50 Best list of top female talents. So far it includes names of other female chefs Hélène Darroze and Anne-Sophie Pic from France. She started as a chef in the USA working under Jeremiah Tower and Mark Franz and gained her first Michelin star in 2009 in the kitchens of the Luce restaurant at the San Francisco InterContinental Hotel.
The term used by Crenn for her cuisine is ‘poetic culinaria’, and she does her menu with the same layering as a poet applies precisely chosen words to a poem. Actually, her menu itself is literally a poem. There isn’t any outline of the ingredients or anything hinting at what might actually be served, other than lines like “I touch the salted water, and hold the shell against my ear”. One of her signature dishes includes a Kir cocktail turned into a spherical form, inspired by her roots back home in Brittany.
Crenn will receive her award on June 13 at the Cipriani Wall Street restaurant in New York, which will also be the unveiling date of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016. For our part, we are not sure why a separate award for best female chef is even necessary, given that gender plays no roles as far as we can tell when it comes to the kitchen.
You can check out more details for her award at The World’s 50 Best site here.