Dominique Crenn was the first female chef in America to be given two Michelin Stars, which are awarded to restaurants for their excellence. For the top-rated chef, this honor marked another "first." Back in 2007, she was the first female executive chef in Indonesia at the Intercontinental Hotel in Jakarta. Crenn, who appears on the popular Food Network competition, Iron Chef, knows that success is personal. "Success is not about money, it's not about who you know," she said. "It's about yourself and who you are inside."
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According to her speech at TEDxFiDiWomen in February, Crenn learned her lessons about success from her dad when she was a young girl growing up in Versailles, France. The cooking and love of food, however, came from watching her mom and grandmother in the kitchen, and from eating at top-rated restaurants as a child. Crenn once joked with reporter from the Contra Costa Times that she was born with foie gras in her mouth.
Crenn started her career as an unpaid kitchen assistant in France and after traveling through Europe to learn about different cultures and culinary styles, she moved to San Francisco and trained as a chef. Crenn later worked in several American restaurants, all the while carrying her dad's words close to her heart. She even makes reference to her dad in the name of her popular San Francisco restaurant, Atelier Crenn, where his artwork can be viewed around the eatery.
Crenn said food nourishes her heart and soul. But in 2009, the chef was working long hours when an accident at home changed her life. "I sliced my knee, my tendon," Crenn explained. "It was about an inch-and-a-half from my artery. So I could have bled to death. And it just kind of woke me up about how I need to live life."
She also remembers that success is a winding road that must be traveled with patience: "Success is a journey. It's about sharing the love of food and the passion that you have for that craft with other people. And that feels good."
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