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Rebecca Davidson Photography
After announcing Boutique Crenn in 2018, Dominique Crenn says her new project is finally set to open at the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco this summer. The chef initially described Boutique Crenn as a space for pop-ups and art installations, with a boulangerie and patisserie concept. At the 12th annual Cayman Cookout last week, Crenn shared more details; for one, the project will be "no-waste, delicious, French, and all-vegetarian,” she told Food & Wine.
In 2019, Crenn made all three of her restaurants meat-free—not vegetarian, as they still serve seafood—in an effort to combat industrial farming. Petit Crenn was always meat-free, Atelier Crenn became meatless about two years ago, and Bar Crenn made the switch recently. Crenn says she’s not a vegetarian, but she believes that chefs need to start making more conscious, thoughtful choices about their sourcing. It’s not about swinging from one extreme to the other, but rather little things, like cooking seasonally, connecting with local farmers, and serving smaller, more adaptable menus.
“I really believe that eating is an act of activism, we are communing with nature every day, and nature is communing with us,” she says. “But we have not done the good work of taking care of nature.”
In that vein, Boutique Crenn’s environmentally-friendly ethos extends beyond just a vegetarian menu. There will not be any silverware, but biodegradable utensils, and at the on-site coffee bar, customers will have to bring their own cups. Cow dairy products won't be served, either. (Well, for the most part—she concedes they’ll still use butter.) The concept will also be built using upcycled materials.
“It’s amazing what you can do with trash,” she says. “Things that you throw away, plastic or glasses, and then you just re-purpose it. That’s what we need to do.”
As for the food? The plan is still boulangerie and patisserie, complete with viennoiseries like pain au chocolat, as well as tartines, made from ingredients supplied by Crenn’s Blue Belle Farm. The dining component will be more “in and out, fast,” she says, but if you want to linger, head to the bar. Crenn says the “sustainable” beverage program will include cocktails and wine—expect plenty of natural bottles, which she already serves at Atelier Crenn, Bar Crenn, and Petit Crenn.
When asked if she would ever go totally plant-based, Crenn says yes without hesitation, to help “rebalance the way we’re doing things.” It’s not a trend to her; it’s a way of looking at eating differently.
“If tomorrow, someone comes and says, all the restaurants in the world, you guys are going to have to stop using dairy, or meat, or whatever for two years to rebalance the planet, I would say yes,” she says. “I would totally do it. I have two five-and-a-half-year-old girls.”
Crenn hopes Boutique Crenn will open in June 2020 at the Salesforce Tower. In the meantime, locals can get a taste of the restaurant to come through a pop-up, which is running at the nearby Salesforce Transit Center. It launched late last year and will run through June.