When Dominique Crenn was awarded three Michelin Stars in 2018 for her influential San Francisco restaurant Atelier Crenn, she became the first female chef in the United States to receive this highly coveted honor. As the first female chef in the United States to receive any stars from the prestigious Michelin restaurant guide, she had previously made waves as the first female executive chef in Indonesia. These were no small feats for someone who hadn’t gone to culinary school or been formally trained in French kitchens. In Rebel Chef, Crenn reflects on her untraditional coming-of-age as a chef, beginning with her happy childhood in Versailles where, as the adopted daughter of a politician, she was emboldened to be curious and independent, and to find her own voice. She was exposed to fine dining from a young age, and a family friend, a restaurant critic, encouraged her to see the story behind the food. But at twenty-one, after deciding to become a chef, Crenn found it to be a near impossible dream in France, where men dominated the kitchens. Never one to be told no, she moved to San Francisco to work under the legendary Jeremiah Tower. It was there that her training began.
But there is another reason Crenn has always felt free to pursue her own unconventional course. Adopted as a toddler, she didn't resemble her parents, or even look traditionally French. Growing up she often felt like an outsider, and was haunted by a past she knew nothing about. But after years of working to fill this blank space, Crenn recognized this duality as a source of strength, one which gives her the power to be whoever she wants to be.
Filled with stories from the years Crenn spent working in the male-centric world of professional kitchens, tracking her career from struggling cook to being named the World’s Best Female Chef, starring on Netflix's Chef's Table, and running one of the world’s most acclaimed restaurants – while at the same time speaking out on restaurant culture, sexism, immigration, and climate change – Rebel Chef is a disarmingly honest and revealing look at one woman's evolution from a daring young chef to a respected activist. At once a tale of personal discovery and a tribute to unrelenting determination, Rebel Chef is the story of one woman making a place for herself in the kitchen, and in the world.