Crenn already stopped serving meat in her restaurants a couple of years back, and now she's ready to go extreme and start listening to herself, and help customers re-connect with what food is really about. "Chefs need to start to cook personally, with their voice, not what the customer wants," she explains.
For Crenn, this new concept of smart luxury begins and ends with local fresh produce. She'll be sourcing most of her ingredients from her own farm, and cooking it in a very raw and simple way to extract the most flavour from each vegetable.
"We are so excited to be re-defining luxury at the restaurant. Everything’s going to be mostly from the farm. I’m going to call it the 'new farm-to-table', smart luxury at Atelier Crenn. We’re going to pick all the vegetables on the same day we’re going to be cooking them. Same thing for fish, from water to table, and really focus on the ingredient."
In the kitchen, each group of ingredients will be cooked on a different Japanese grill: one for vegetables, one for fish, one for crustaceans, one for smoking. She's enjoyed rolling up her sleeves and sweating side-by-side with her farmers, working the land on her farm once a week and allowing her kids to experience vegetables fresh from the ground.
"I realised if those kids love the purity of food like this, why can’t a chef give food like that to the community? Instead we should be thinking: this is fennel, this is delicious; this is cauliflower, this is amazing."
"The answer is in front of us. Nature is in front of us."
Making Value Choices
This food "activism", a word Crenn relies on, doesn't just start and stop with her and chefs if we're to make the food world a better place, she warns. Consumers and diners also need to start making better, more informed, value choices.
Customers should go to a restaurant because they trust the chef and where the food comes from, she says. "Spending your money and buying and eating is going to become an act of activism. Every time you go to a restaurant you need to know how your money’s going to be spent."
"When I reopened outside, a few customers came to me and said 'chef you really opened my eyes, I’m someone that likes to dine out, buy food, but I never thought about the power I have when I’m buying. And listening to you and what you guys are doing, I want to support people that have my values also'," she says.
Crenn admits to avoiding restaurants that don't share the practices she agrees with, even if she knows she's missing out on fantastic food. “I love to go to restaurants where people have a point of view, and I love to go to places that hold the same values that I hold.”
Thinking about the future, Crenn is as optimistic as ever. "It will be better. It’s up to us to make it better, to be honest. It’s up to us to finally to take the power of who we are as a community."
"Let’s not fight with each other in our community. Let’s be kind to each other and do something that is good for humanity. I think we can change the course of history right now."