She was once wanted by the law, but last night, in her adopted home of San Francisco Dominique Crenn had the last laugh as she became the first woman chef in the United States ever to be honored with the holy grail of gastronomy; three Michelin stars.
It was only four years ago that Crenn fled the United States with several law enforcement agencies hot on her French heels after the controversial chef assaulted and basically ruined an extremely rare and wild Japanese sea bass during a cooking exhibition in Los Angeles. Japanese government officials demanded their American counterparts make Crenn pay for her crimes and warrants were issued for her arrest. The hastily formed Dominique Crenn Fugitive Task Force - FBI, DEA, Homeland Security, Paris PD - gave chase from Melrose Avenue to Marseilles to Marrakesh. Wanted posters were printed in at least 12 languages.
But, as the investigation dragged and other issued came to the front burner - the destruction of Aleppo, ISIS, the American presidential election, global warming - news of the fugitive chef’s whereabouts was related to back pages. And, with so many truly pressing issues on the forefront, the sentiment grew that Crenn’s crimes - which included the theft of chef Michelle Francis’ sunglasses - were relatively minor.
Meanwhile. Crenn was hiding in plain sight, globe trotting and lending her celebrity “bad girl” name to an array of admirable causes such as world hunger, women’s rights and disaster relief. Soon, with the world in turmoil, the masses marched to her side,
Her restaurant Atelier Crenn had been awarded two Michelin stars in 2011, but the top prize eluded her. Many observers thought perhaps her rebel outlaw past was the reason for withholding the crowning glory. Every year she would wait for the news of triumph. It did not come. She would have to wait ‘til next year.
But, last night, Dominique Crenn’s wait came to an end.
Her fellows chefs, many of whom never abandoned Dominique in hard times- were thrilled to her she had been honored with the ultimate accolade.
“Everybody knows Dominique Crenn is a nut case, but the girl can sure the fuck cook,” said chef Elizabeth Falkner, who had once faced charges of harboring a fugitive during the height of the hunt for Crenn. Charges were eventually dropped against Falkner when it was learned the notorious “crasher” had no home to harbor anyone. “I’m beyond thrilled for her.”
Nancy Silverton was happy, too. “First three star female chef in the country. That IS a big deal.”
Late last night, after the celebrations had quieted, after the last diners had departed, Dominique Crenn sat alone on a cushy chair in Bar Crenn, her homage to the salons of Paris, adjacent to her now three star Atelier Crenn. After speaking with her mother, Louise Marie Crenn, in the town of Quimper in Brittany, a friend poured her a glass of the mythical 1947 Chateau Cheval Blanc, the treasure the staff had been saving for this occasion.
She sipped the nectar and, in her solitude thought of her father Allain Marie Crenn. She grew heavy hearted when she thought back to the day he died and she was not at his side. But, as the ‘47 Cheval worked its wonders, she felt her father sitting right next to her, his left hand hand on hers, his right arm around her shoulders.
“I was on the other side of the world when you left us,” Dominique said, her voice cracking. “Papa, I’m so sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry, my sweet Dominique. I know your heart was with me. And, tonight. on this wonderful glorious night I am right here with you.”