A Seattle native, Dana Cree began her culinary career in 2000, studying in the culinary, baking, and pastry programs at The Art Institute of Seattle. Cree worked in the savory side of the kitchen for three years at Seattle’s Lampreia, studying the restrained, minimalistic northern Italian cuisine of Scott Carsberg, before turning to pastry. After a lengthy stage at The Fat Duck in Bray, England, in early 2005, Cree returned to Seattle to hold the pastry chef position at the seasonal, farm-to-table restaurant Eva, in Seattle’s Tangletown district.
In 2007, Cree spent a few highly influential weeks staging with Alex Stupak at WD-50. Upon return to Seattle, Cree took the helm at the contemporary American restaurant Veil, where she explored modernist technique in a fine dining setting, putting to use the lessons learned at WD-50 and The Fat Duck. During her time at Veil, Cree was named “Best Pastry Chef; 2008” by Seattle magazine.
When Veil closed in 2008, Dana was brought on the opening team of Jerry Traunfeld’s restaurant, Poppy, an herb and spice-inspired restaurant serving pacific northwest cuisine in a Thali. At Poppy, Cree refined and refocused her concepts to make them exciting, accessible, and entirely feasible for the high-volume setting. Her work with Traunfeld earned her the title “Rebel Chef” from Seattle Magazine, as well as the recognition of Starchefs, who awarded her with a rising star award in 2009, along with the opportunity to present at the International Starchefs Congress that year.
Cree left Seattle in 2010, and after a stage at Noma in Copenhagen, returned to the States to work at Alinea in Chicago, drawing experience from two of the best restaurants in the world.
Cree made her way back to Denmark as the pastry chef at Kadeau restaurant on the island of Bornholm, immersing herself in the products of the Baltic Island and creating in the New Nordic style. When the season ended and the restaurant closed for the harsh Scandinavian winter, Dana returned to the states and entered the tutelage of Sherry Yard at Spago Beverly Hills, Wolfgang Puck’s iconic California restaurant. Here she revisited classic techniques while learning to create strong relationships with the farmers of the area.
Cree has returned to Chicago to share these broad experiences with Blackbird restaurant, drawing from their expansive nature to create a style all her own.
Cree has been featured on Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations”, The Food Network Challenge, and in Gourmet and Food and Wine magazines. Her own food writing can be found on her blog, ThePastryDepartment.com, and has been published in the London Newspaper, The Guardian.