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Rebel Chef: In Search of What Matters

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By the time Dominique Crenn decided to become a chef, at the age of twenty-one, she knew it was a near impossible dream in France where almost all restaurant kitchens were run by men. So she moved to San Francisco to train under Jeremiah Tower. Almost thirty years later, Crenn was awarded three Michelin Stars in 2018 for her restaurant Atelier Crenn, and became the first f By the time Dominique Crenn decided to become a chef, at the age of twenty-one, she knew it was a near impossible dream in France where almost all restaurant kitchens were run by men. So she moved to San Francisco to train under Jeremiah Tower. Almost thirty years later, Crenn was awarded three Michelin Stars in 2018 for her restaurant Atelier Crenn, and became the first female chef in the United States to receive this honor. In this book, the author writes of her childhood in Versailles. Adopted as a toddler, 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 has embraced the power her history gives her to be whoever she wants to be. She also addresses restaurant culture, sexism, immigration, and climate change, this is a book of a chef's personal journey of discovery.


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By the time Dominique Crenn decided to become a chef, at the age of twenty-one, she knew it was a near impossible dream in France where almost all restaurant kitchens were run by men. So she moved to San Francisco to train under Jeremiah Tower. Almost thirty years later, Crenn was awarded three Michelin Stars in 2018 for her restaurant Atelier Crenn, and became the first f By the time Dominique Crenn decided to become a chef, at the age of twenty-one, she knew it was a near impossible dream in France where almost all restaurant kitchens were run by men. So she moved to San Francisco to train under Jeremiah Tower. Almost thirty years later, Crenn was awarded three Michelin Stars in 2018 for her restaurant Atelier Crenn, and became the first female chef in the United States to receive this honor. In this book, the author writes of her childhood in Versailles. Adopted as a toddler, 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 has embraced the power her history gives her to be whoever she wants to be. She also addresses restaurant culture, sexism, immigration, and climate change, this is a book of a chef's personal journey of discovery.

30 review for Rebel Chef: In Search of What Matters

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie DeMoss

    3.5 Stars, rounded up to 4. Rebel Chef is the story of Dominique Crenn, from her adoption and childhood in France to owning her own restaurant and finding success in America. She shares personal stories without holding back, and it is interesting to read. I'm a fan of food, and at first it seemed to me that there were plenty of stories about Crenn's personal life, and not enough about food and her career as a chef. However, the last 30 percent of the book made me happy as she talked a lot about m 3.5 Stars, rounded up to 4. Rebel Chef is the story of Dominique Crenn, from her adoption and childhood in France to owning her own restaurant and finding success in America. She shares personal stories without holding back, and it is interesting to read. I'm a fan of food, and at first it seemed to me that there were plenty of stories about Crenn's personal life, and not enough about food and her career as a chef. However, the last 30 percent of the book made me happy as she talked a lot about menu choices and the food she serves in her restaurant. There is a small section that gets a little preachy about food choices. If you love biographies and food, you will enjoy this book. I received a free copy of this book from the publishers and Netgalley. My review is voluntary.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Hope

    Dominique Crenn's life is fascinating and this autobiography is moving and unapologetic. It was an honor to narrate the audiobook version, especially since it meant I got to read twice, once in prep and once aloud. Made me want to fly across the world to San Francisco as soon as I am able to taste all of chef's delicious-sounding, artistic, and ethical creations.

  3. 4 out of 5

    yc

    A book I have been looking forward to for years. It didn’t disappoint, and I was truly moved. Her struggles, her dreams, her beliefs, and her heart — beautiful and inspiring. Reading this memoir has been a privilege.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Keith Sickle

    An insightful look into the mind and spirit of a great chef. Dominique Crenn, being largely self-taught, is not your typical chef. She is gay, an adoptee, and a woman in what has long been a man's profession. But she has rare talent, an abiding confidence in her own abilities, and an uncommon vision. While she has made mistake--plenty of them--she has always moved forward. The results speak for themselves, as Crenn is one of the rare chefs to have been awarded three Michelin stars. "Living is mov An insightful look into the mind and spirit of a great chef. Dominique Crenn, being largely self-taught, is not your typical chef. She is gay, an adoptee, and a woman in what has long been a man's profession. But she has rare talent, an abiding confidence in her own abilities, and an uncommon vision. While she has made mistake--plenty of them--she has always moved forward. The results speak for themselves, as Crenn is one of the rare chefs to have been awarded three Michelin stars. "Living is moving," she writes. "Nothing is learned by standing still." Hers is a life in constant motion and it reminds me of Bashō, who wrote, "Every day is a journey and the journey itself is home."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    3.5 but rounding down because overall I felt kind of neutral about this book. I also listened to the audio book version so that may have impacted my enjoyment. I was excited to pick up this book because I really like food culture and Dominique Crenn is a badass. This book is pretty short so it's easy to get through and Crenn has had an interesting life. Her experiences in different kitchens, especially her time in Indonesia, were insightful. The book really shines in part 3 where the reader gets 3.5 but rounding down because overall I felt kind of neutral about this book. I also listened to the audio book version so that may have impacted my enjoyment. I was excited to pick up this book because I really like food culture and Dominique Crenn is a badass. This book is pretty short so it's easy to get through and Crenn has had an interesting life. Her experiences in different kitchens, especially her time in Indonesia, were insightful. The book really shines in part 3 where the reader gets to see where Crenn is now. I enjoyed learning about her commitment to food, sustainability, and activism. In all, if you like books about chefs or short, easy reads, this is probably a book you'd enjoy.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Marian

    I enjoy memoirs and if there's food involved, I'm all in -- so it was only natural that I was drawn to reading Rebel Chef: In Search of What Matters. Having seen a profile of Dominique Crenn on Netflix's Chef's Table, I was curious to read her life story. Crenn is a risk taker and someone whose curiosity continuously moves her in new and often challenging directions. Rebel Chef is a quick read, and Crenn's voice and her straightforward tone come through clearly. She's a "what you see is what you I enjoy memoirs and if there's food involved, I'm all in -- so it was only natural that I was drawn to reading Rebel Chef: In Search of What Matters. Having seen a profile of Dominique Crenn on Netflix's Chef's Table, I was curious to read her life story. Crenn is a risk taker and someone whose curiosity continuously moves her in new and often challenging directions. Rebel Chef is a quick read, and Crenn's voice and her straightforward tone come through clearly. She's a "what you see is what you get" kind of person and being fearful is just not in her playbook. And since she isn't a person who has a Plan B in her pocket, she will simply adjust herself if Plan A doesn't materialize. While a large part of the book focuses on Crenn's culinary career, she and co-author Emma Brockes also chronicle Crenn's early years in France, and it is very evident that Crenn's adoptive parents played a huge role in the person she became. I came away admiring Crenn's strong work ethic as well as her insights on life, and as she writes, "Life is strange and one can only be grateful." Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Press for this ARC (Advance Reader's Copy) in exchange for my honest review. #RebelChef #NetGalley

  7. 4 out of 5

    Cari

    I really wanted to like this, but it felt like she was holding something back. There was just some personal element that was missing. An interesting life story nonetheless.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Every human story is connected if you tell it right, and when I cook there is some connection to an inner part of myself that, when things work out, is able to touch people.” - page 189 I fell in love with Dominique when I first saw her on season two of Chef’s Table. The fact that she is from Brittany (where my mom’s side of the family is from) and that her cooking is deeply influenced by the coastal landscape immediately drew me to her. I loved getting to know more about her through this book. I Every human story is connected if you tell it right, and when I cook there is some connection to an inner part of myself that, when things work out, is able to touch people.” - page 189 I fell in love with Dominique when I first saw her on season two of Chef’s Table. The fact that she is from Brittany (where my mom’s side of the family is from) and that her cooking is deeply influenced by the coastal landscape immediately drew me to her. I loved getting to know more about her through this book. It’s an easy read, very straightforward and to the point, full of interesting stories and insights. Would recommend to anyone who enjoys a good foodie memoir.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Gray

    What a life! It's hard to review memoirs because it sometimes feels as thought you are revising the writer's life and life choices. That's not the case here. Crenn is the first female chef in the US to be awarded three Michelin stars but she's so much more. This charts her growth from France through Asia and back to California, primarily San Francisco. Her love for her parents is palpable. Foodies will like this for insight into an important voice in the restaurant world- she's taken meat off th What a life! It's hard to review memoirs because it sometimes feels as thought you are revising the writer's life and life choices. That's not the case here. Crenn is the first female chef in the US to be awarded three Michelin stars but she's so much more. This charts her growth from France through Asia and back to California, primarily San Francisco. Her love for her parents is palpable. Foodies will like this for insight into an important voice in the restaurant world- she's taken meat off the menu but it's also a story of a strong minded and determined woman. Her focus on her staff and mentoring is especially admirable. Thanks to Edelweiss for the ARC. I'm hopeful for her future and looking forward to one day eating in one of her establishments.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Erin Hale

    This is an enjoyable memoir from a world re-known & awarded chef who is truly making a lasting mark in the culinary world, as well as spreading positive & inspiring signals for innovation, sustainability & equality for all facets of life. Her background is not traditional, nor is her approach to cooking & developing her own special brand of ideas, and I found many recounts of her background to be interesting & inspiring as someone who truly paved her own path to greatness. As an adopted child in This is an enjoyable memoir from a world re-known & awarded chef who is truly making a lasting mark in the culinary world, as well as spreading positive & inspiring signals for innovation, sustainability & equality for all facets of life. Her background is not traditional, nor is her approach to cooking & developing her own special brand of ideas, and I found many recounts of her background to be interesting & inspiring as someone who truly paved her own path to greatness. As an adopted child in France, Dominique had a vision of becoming a chef via a fascination with America. Seeing her options as limited & restricted while in France, she set out for California with no formal culinary schooling and little-to-no-experience in a kitchen. Once in California, it's obvious that she really felt the freedom of expression to spread her wings, develop her sense of self & future of opportunities, and work her way up quickly through the ranks to becoming a recognized chef in the San Francisco restaurant scene. The things I enjoyed the most about this book are her ideas of acceptance & willingness to grow & evolve even amidst criticism, obstacles, mistakes, or even potentially catastrophic regrets. She takes the reader through a journey on many levels: as an aspiring young woman not able to fit in with her peers at an early age, into someone picked for the spotlight on shows like Iron Chef and Chef's Table. As an open-minded immigrant who comes to America with pure intentions & a willingness to succeed, as well as her emotional & personal journeys into homosexuality & making a name for herself while maintaining her integrity. As a chef that not only cares about the food on the plate, the bottom line of cost/markups, & competing only with herself, but also someone who promote ethical practices & sources, as well as minimizing waste & focusing on the best quality of what can be produced, rather than what's quick & easy. I found Dominique's viewpoints to be enriching & inspiring, not just on her views on food & the restaurant industry, but also about life in general and what's truly important. While she does touch on her moments of tragedy, the focus is always on what those moments did to push her forward in her goals & aspirations. It's an easy-to-read memoir (much easier for me than, say, Kitchen Confidential was- she actually explains what many of the proper dishes are rather than just dropping fancy names without reference), and definitely makes me want to seek out a reservation at one of her tables, should I be provided with such an opportunity one day.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dominique

    3.8 this book’s naming is inaccurate in my opinion. A rebel chef to me seems like someone who has a chip on their shoulder and will take on the world. Dominique feels much more like a Zen chef. Who through her zen like approach was able challenge industry norms. It is a lovely and peaceful story about a woman learning about herself. Her love and view of food makes me excited for this pandemic to be over and to try out her restaurants.I am no way a connoisseur or foodie but I do feel like Her app 3.8 this book’s naming is inaccurate in my opinion. A rebel chef to me seems like someone who has a chip on their shoulder and will take on the world. Dominique feels much more like a Zen chef. Who through her zen like approach was able challenge industry norms. It is a lovely and peaceful story about a woman learning about herself. Her love and view of food makes me excited for this pandemic to be over and to try out her restaurants.I am no way a connoisseur or foodie but I do feel like Her approach would not feel overly pretentious to me or inhibiting, as I would be one of the least sophisticated pallets in her restaurant. As a person she seems kind and thoughtful. Overall an interesting person. I do wonder if the narrator made it hard to see her as a “rebel“ as her voice also felt very zen like.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Laura Chase

    It was a fairly quick and thought provoking autobiography. I found that I liked it better and better and the book progressed. I really liked her chapter titles Ethical Kitchen about trying to think about where ones food comes from. This struck a chord with me as for many years and am still doing a CSA share from a local farmer and have recently started getting a fish share from a cooperative fishery. The taste of both are so much better than getting the same things from a grocery store, where th It was a fairly quick and thought provoking autobiography. I found that I liked it better and better and the book progressed. I really liked her chapter titles Ethical Kitchen about trying to think about where ones food comes from. This struck a chord with me as for many years and am still doing a CSA share from a local farmer and have recently started getting a fish share from a cooperative fishery. The taste of both are so much better than getting the same things from a grocery store, where the produce & fish may have chemicals added to them and have come from farther away.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Inspiring Read Loved this book. Dominique Crenn is such a creative upstart who seems so to everything with ease including writing a beautiful autobiography in English which is not her native language. In this book she explores her life experiences and family who have helped shaped her into being an incredible role model.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Good book, I skipped through a lot of the detailed descriptions of food prep. The author's childhood was more interesting to me. Plus I love Bretagne. It's like the New England I grew up in - still wild. And with French food. If Dominique reads her reviews, five days vacation is not generous at all. Give your staff at least ten.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tria

    This was a fascinating memoir and glimpse into who the amazing visionary chef is. Dominique's courage, determination, and creativity shines throughout! I've been following her career for years, and can't wait to get to San Francisco to savour her genius. Many thanks to Edelweiss for the ARC, this was an inspirational read!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Troyer

    Fascinating story. From start to present Dominique’s telling us more than her life story. She’s expressing words on behalf of her family, life and work. I look forward to the day I finally am able to dine in her dining room (or rather restaurant). Thankful for the time she took to capture this story.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Katie Smith

    Rebel Chef is a wonderful look inside the life of Dominique Crenn, one of the top chefs of our time. She writes candidly and honestly about her experience in the food world. I found her story truly inspiring.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    I love chef memoirs, and this was a good one, mainly about the importance of being true to yourself and trusting your instincts when pursuing your goals. If you liked this, try Give a Girl a Knife or Burn the Place.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie

    Merci Seeing Dominique on Sunday morning show inspired me to read her book! So happy for her and her stars ! A tribute to living life to the fullest!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Elly Ort

    An amazing read! Dominique it was a honor to get to know you! My dream is to savor your food! Thoughtful and provocative!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Semra

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Good

  22. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa

    Loved reading about DC. Such an inspiring person

  23. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Pretty amazing life learning. I respected her so much. She sounds like an incredible chef.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Shamario

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Czechs and love 💘

  25. 4 out of 5

    Monica

    I love Crenn’s persistence and creativity!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    More like 3.5 stars. A good, fun, quick read, but nothing too amazing. Interesting if you like restaurants and food and San Francisco (which I do!).

  27. 4 out of 5

    Molly Rosen Marriner

    Read this for work. Maybe they thought it would empower us to work very long chef-like shifts. Whooo!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Karen

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sherrill Slemmons

  30. 5 out of 5

    Alonzo Visick

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