I am not sure what I expected when I challenged chef Dominique Crenn to cook from her new book in my home kitchen using only my knives and pans. But I do know why it seemed like a fine idea. I taught myself to cook by slavishly following recipes in compendiums by Alice Waters and Thomas Keller, but that approach floundered with newer books from modernist restaurants like Noma, Mugaritz and Manresa. Time and again, I swooned over the photos and then read a few recipes and concluded that a single dinner party would cost me a week and a thousand dollars. I began to wonder what these ultra-luxe cookbooks were even for—who was meant to buy them, and why?
Crenn’s book was the one that put me over the edge. She grew up in France, won Iron Chef America in 2010 and became the first female cook in the U.S. to receive two Michelin stars. Her cuisine blends classical French technique and high technology to create dishes of magical lyricism—poetic culinaria, as Crenn calls it—and if you’re picturing foams and gels and billowing mist and forest moss, you’re getting the right idea. I had one of the greatest meals of my life at San Francisco’s Atelier Crenn, and I came away desperate to know how she did it. So when I got my copy of Atelier Crenn: Metamorphosis of Taste and saw those wildly complex recipes, I thought, Enough already! Let’s see you do this in my kitchen, and without all those helpers.
- Dominique Crenn Imagines the Taste of "Walking Deep in the Woods"
- How To Make Kimchi-Mussel Bouillabaisse
- A Week in the Life of Jonathon Sawyer's Ramen Broth
“Of course,” said Crenn, when I phoned to ask if she would consider such a demonstration. “Monday—I come at two o’clock, we can eat at six.”