*This column will be running on Wednesday, August 30, on the food page of The Henderson Daily Dispatch.
Last week I shared the first portion of my telephone interview with Chef Dominique Crenn in advance of her participation at the Euphoria Festival in Greenville SC, on the weekend of September 21st. She’s chef/owner of Michelin-starred Atelier Crenn and Petit Crenn in San Francisco. Chef Dominique was also named world’s best female chef in 2016.
Here is the second part of that conversation.
What are some items that you can’t cook without? A good spoon to test. What…, salt, great olive oil…French olive oil? From Spain; great organic olive oil. I know, I love the French, but the Spanish is just amazing. I’ve spent a lot of time in Spain. A lot of great cheese…French cheese.
What is your favorite cheese? You know I love comte cheese, and blue cheese, Roquefort or Fourme d’Ambert.
So, you know, I need to have a scale in the kitchen too.
What is one dish that a novice should learn that is inexpensive, but which also can be used for entertaining? They need to learn how to make the best French omelet. What in the culinary world angers or disappoints you? When people don’t think before cooking. They are not conscious and thoughtful about what they are buying. In a restaurant also, you know? Restaurants have a responsibility not only to cook, but to the farmers and the community that we are living in. I think it’s important for us to be involved in any way that we can with the community that surrounds us. And we are not growing the food, the farmers are growing the food. Just get involved—get involved with your rancher, get involved with your fishmonger, get involved with the person that is making cheese—get involved with your community. And when they don’t do it, that really angers me.
So, what in the food world makes you happy and gives you hope for the future? Children give me hope. Food is the core of the society. If there is no food, no understanding of what food is, then there is no society.How do you deal with the stuff that you have to put up with as a female chef? My approach is to be smarter than they are, without putting them down. I deal with it with in the most intellectual and positive way I can. If I’m dealing with someone who’s acting with much annoyance, I just don’t answer them.
What do you pack for a picnic? A good bottle of wine; rose wine. A beautiful French baguette. Different types of cheeses, some pickled vegetables, maybe some jam, some type of seafood, chacouterie, a lot of beautiful fruit from the market. But I think a baguette with butter and cheese, and cornichon is good enough for me.What’s the best way for passionate, but not affluent people to enjoy fine dining? When you want to appreciate something, you have to go with an open mind, let go of your surroundings and surrender yourself to what it is. I know it can be kind of expensive, but I created another spot, Petit Crenn where people can come and enjoy the passion and the love that we create. And I’m opening, in the fall, Bar Crenn, which is going to be ala carte, also, adjacent to Atelier. I’m going to be offering ala carte, but also be offering maybe a couple of tasting menus which will be less expensive than Atelier Crenn. I want to welcome everyone.
Next week we will conclude our conversation with Chef Crenn. She told me a couple things that surprised me, and might give you a surprise, as well.Thanks for your time.