by Katie Chang, contributor Forbes.com
With two Michelin stars under her belt – she’s the first female in the U.S. to earn the title – Dominique Crenn clearly knows her way around a kitchen. But after spending a day with her in San Francisco last month, a mere two days after being awarded Best Chef: West at the James Beard Awards in Chicago, I discovered she’s got far more than formidable culinary chops (and not to mention, boundless energy).
In honor of fish, Krug Champagne’s single ingredient this year – this is the fourth year the famed Champagne house enlisted top chefs from all over the world to create original dishes to pair with its Grande Cuvée – the brand teamed up with Crenn for a day of fishing on the sea, followed by a champagne-pairing dinner prepared with some of the day’s catch.
While the weather was beautifully balmy and breezy for the fishing excursion, the waters weren’t as welcoming. The choppiness eventually got to Crenn, but rather than complain, she took the queasiness in stride. She helped catch fish, sipped champagne, and even prepared a positively pretty (and thoroughly sigh-inducing) mushroom tartine in the boat’s tiny galley.
That evening, in an open kitchen of a private townhouse in the Mission, Crenn and two of her chefs continued to make magic, from a tartlet filled with creamy, sweet uni, to freshly-caught halibut capped with an indulgent scoop of caviar. As the conversation and champagne flowed, I learned Crenn is not just culturally and politically astute – she asked my thoughts on what’s happening in Korea – but witty as well. When I asked her what she thought about Trump, she quipped, “Who’s that?”
Immediately, I wanted to know more about her. (Who wouldn’t, right?) So, I steered clear of the typical food and cheffy questions, and asked what I wanted to know about her on the spot. Below, ten interesting things about Crenn that shape and inform who she is.
What do you love most about living in San Francisco?
The diversity and the freedom.
When was the last time you really felt loved? (Crenn pauses, then laughs.) Okay, when was the last time you were kissed?
Two seconds ago.
Where do you go to escape and have privacy?
By the water.
What’s the time of day you feel most energized?
What do you like most about having short hair?
The immediate ability to wake up, wash my hair, and go to work.
What’s your favorite article of clothing?
I used to love G-Star jeans years ago, but now I love this company from Nashville, Imogene + Willie.
Tulip, because the shape is almost like the shape of your heart.
Blue. It’s like the sky, you can get lost in it.
Name a place you’ve never been to, but really want to visit.
Tel Aviv. I have a lot of friends who live there, and there’s lots of ancient history and amazing food.
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?