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Chef Dominique Crenn (Photo by Chance Yeh/Getty Images for NYCWFF)

‘A better world’

America’s highest-rated woman chef sounds alarm about suppressing diversity

February 12, 2019

Renowned three-star Michelin chef Dominique Crenn is setting new standards for excellence in the San Francisco restaurant scene — including in terms of gender equality. Crenn, a French national, became the first America-based woman restauranteur to be awarded the prestigious Michelin restaurant guide’s top honors in November for her restaurant Atelier Crenn. Only 15 restaurants in the U.S. have a three-star Michelin rating. Crenn’s excellence, fellow chefs say, have helped to smash the glass ceiling in the historically male-dominated business — and set new standards for how female staff are treated within the industry.

In wake of the #MeToo movement, some of the most prominent chefs in the restaurant industry were exposed as serial harassers and abusers of women, revealing what many decried as a systemic culture of misogyny and abuse. Speaking to The Guardian, Crenn said that she too faced harassment from a colleague early in her career. When she complained, she said, she was told she could either shut up about it or go work somewhere else. She left.

“It’s almost in a way like I was a burden for them being a woman in the kitchen,” she said.

Within the confines of her own kitchen walls, Crenn has instituted a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment and similar misogynistic behavior that has helped create another rarity in the world of high-end cooking — gender diversity. At Atelier Crenn, her staff is 50 percent women. At her other restaurant, Petit Crenn, the staff is 80 percent women. Embracing diversity, Crenn says, can only push the world of cooking — and the world in general — to greater heights.

“Diversity is going to bring us to a better world,” she said. “Right now we are in a place where we’re suppressing diversity … For me, this is not what America is about.”

Crenn appeared at the 2018 Women in the World New York Summit to discuss how cooking can serve as a tool for social change. Watch video of that discussion below:

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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