Michelin Star Chef Dominique Crenn Calls Out San Pellegrino Jurors

Update: Dominique Crenn calls out the San Pellegrino jurors (and rightly so) for the exclusion of female jurors. As Eater notes, looking at the full list of jurors on the San Pellegrino site, there are indeed women on a number of the regional juries, including Ana Ros representing Eastern Europe, and Daniela Soto-Innes and April Bloomfield representing the US. But Crenn makes a good point that out of 21 regions, it seems strange that no qualified female jurors could be found in nine of them — and where there are women included, they are outnumbered by men by three-to-one, four-to-one, or five-to-one ratios.

Michelin star-approved, female powerhouse, Dominique Crenn, has a lot to celebrate in the past 5 years.

With multiple restaurant openings, two Michelin stars, and a menu that is lusted after worldwide — she finds herself boxed by the toxic masculinity of the SF food scene and beyond. Or from we got with this recent profile covered by the New York Times. With many younger, male chefs cooking up a storm (namely: Chef Corey Lee of In Situ) and an on-slaught of male nominee’s for this year’s James Beard Award — she got named World’s Best Female Chef by the London-based 50 Best organization, which puts out the annual San Pellegrino-sponsored World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.

As she tells the Times, “I hope that award won’t exist in two years. But then I thought, ‘Am I going to fight it or am I going to do something with it?’”

As she was posed in the essay, what does it mean to be a leading woman in food? Quite frankly, she finds it patronizing. She told NYT, “But then I thought, ‘Am I going to fight it or am I going to do something with it?” The NYT’s writer Julia Moskin goes onto say, “Ms. Crenn now has to wrangle publicly with the increasingly controversial role of leading female chef, a label she has tried to fend off throughout her career. The morning after being named “Best Female Chef,” she was on “Today” defending (and explaining) the title, while online a debate raged over whether the award was a gratifying recognition from peers or a blatant expression of the sexism that continues to pervade the restaurant business.”

As most artists would agree, there is a fine between anonymity in your art and facing the “spotlight” so to speak. Look at Banksy, for example, a world-renowned public artist who lives behind the art but for some, they can hide behind the work and create in the safe haven of their craft while others use their work to launch their own name often competing with gender, race, and sexuality confines. Of course, critics in the Bay Area took a moment to warm up to her — Chronicle critic Michael Bauer, had choice words about the Atelier Crenn opening, but now says, “She cooks the way the men are cooking.” While receiving a critics response to her food is always a nail biting experience, she was not one too fond of the male hierarchy within fine dining. “It’s still easier for men to stick their neck out and say: ‘Look at me, look at what I’m doing on this plate. Isn’t it incredible?”

We could get all sorts of political.

To Crenn’s response, “being a chef is about feeding people, which is part of the story of all humanity,” she said. “Male, female, gay, straight, Jewish, Muslim, white, black: The longer I do this, the more I am sure that none of it should matter in the kitchen — or anywhere.” “Maybe I’ll start my own list,” she added. “It would not look like anything the world has seen before.” Of course, congrats to Dominique Crenn for becoming The World’s Best Female Chef but it’s an interesting conversation and also commands the coined phrase, “if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen?”

Atelier Crenn's Oyster Cucumber.Atelier Crenn's Oyster Cucumber.

Atelier Crenn’s Oyster Cucumber.

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Michelin Star Chef Dominique Crenn Calls Out San Pellegrino Jurors
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