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I went back to a place that I love.. it was also a place for me to maybe showcase a bit of San Francisco but also showcase a little bit of Spain and San Sebastian that perhaps some people might not be able to understand because they have never been there...Dominique Crenn.
The second episode of CNN’s Culinary Journeys aired on CNN International this Friday following chef Dominique Crenn as she traveled from her Atelier Crenn restaurant in San Francisco to the beautiful location of San Sebastián in Spain.
The new show invites some of the world’s best chefs to embark upon their own exciting culinary journeys with the first episode seeing the charismatic Italian chef Massimo Bottura travel to London for a meeting with the legendary chef Fergus Henderson.
In episode two, Crenn met up with her good friend Elena Arzak and her father Juan Mari Arzak as they explored some of the distinct flavours, locations and traditions of San Sebastián. The chef also offered up her own interpretation of the classic Basque ‘Marmitako’ fish stew and explained her unique cooking style which she calls “poetic culinaria".
We caught up with Crenn for an exclusive chat just before the show aired, asking her about the one culinary journey she looks forward taking the most, her ultimate dream food trip and just how her latest journey to San Sebastián influenced her long after she returned to the States. You can see her answers below but first, here's the third and final part of the episode.
Crenn returns to San Francisco, taking her new found knowledge and flavors with her.
What did you take home from your trip to Spain?
“In Spain they really live happily, in the way they look at life and I thought: I want to be like this and tell my story like them. It’s not about instant gratification it’s about living your passion and having your vision and doing everything that you want to do.
“There’s just this connection with people… it’s what life’s about, about getting together, it’s about talking to a stranger, about understanding their story - that’s what life is about it’s not about speeding in your own world and not caring about what other people do. I love that, it makes me more human…This is what I want my life to be, I want that, I want people to come to my house, I want to go to places where people gather. We have so little of that, especially in the country where I live, everything is so fast, everything is about where is the next thing and you really need to step back and see what matters.”
Crenn exploring the market with fellow chef Elena Arzak.
What’s the culinary journey you look forward to most?
“I love to go back to where my parents come from in Brittany and that smell of the sea, the live seafood that you get on the plate, the rustic part of Brittany, the coast, the red cheeks of the farmers on the farm and black nails because they’ve been working very hard. The home cooking of my mum and the humility of what Brittany is and the people are very much in my DNA and I love to go back there and just step back, enjoy and rewind the time - as I was a kid.”
If we gave you a blank check for a culinary journey anywhere in the world, where would you go?
“Japan. I’ve never been to Japan - it’s funny because a lot of people think I have a sensitivity for Japanese cooking but I’ve never been. I admire the Japanese culture and the way they think - not just about the food but their whole philosophy. It would definitely be Japan, so if you want to send me, please do so - I’m ready to go.”
What would you say is a highlight of your own career journey?
“To be able to create a place like Atelier Crenn and to be able to work with the people that I work with. You know I’ve been working with Juan Contreras my pastry chef, since 2006 and he’s been sticking with me since then. I think my highlight of every day is to look at him, talk to him and be able to share my struggle, also my love and my beauty about things and to keep creating the things that we want to create. My highlight is really about being with a man who has been on my side for all these years and I just want to say thank you to him.”