Dominique Crenn is armed and ready for thoughtless questions about her personal life. At a recent panel where the San Francisco-based chef of two-Michelin-starred Atelier Crenn and Eater 2016 Best New Restaurant Petit Crenn was speaking, a man in the audience asked her if she felt like she missed out on “the very important role of being a mother to children,” reports Australian site 9Kitchen. In her response, Crenn pointed out that she does in fact have kids, exposing the biases at play in asking the only woman on the panel about work-family balance.
Before dropping the bombshell that she is a mother, the Chef’s Table star first turned the tables on the speaker, asking if he had assumed that she didn’t have children just because she is a successful female chef. After revealing that she has twin daughters, a detail that has clearly done little to affect her status as an internationally renowned chef, she told the man: "If you have kids, I hope you stay home with them, so that your wife can go out and be a bad-ass woman." The crowd erupted in applause.
The panel on which Crenn was speaking was hosted Saturday by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants (a lead-up event to the big reveal of this year’s list on Wednesday). At the Sydney event, Crenn, who was named the World’s Best Female Chef 2016 by the very same organization — and who finally broke onto the main list at no. 83 this year — also pointed out earlier in the discussion that it’s not just women who have to weigh decisions of career and family.
Before the audience Q&A, Panelist Brett Graham, chef of London restaurant the Ledbury, HAD noted that many of his female chefs have had to leave the kitchen to pursue motherhood. 9Kitchen reports that Crenn responded, “We need to stop pretending that we are all the same, but I also think we need to change the conversation around this.”
Crenn elaborated that to her, changing the conversation means acknowledging that making serious, daily choices about career and personal life is not exclusive to women — or chefs.
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