A Seattle native, Dana Cree began her culinary journey in 2000, studying at The Art Institute of Seattle. Cree first worked in the savory side of the kitchen for three years at Seattle’s Lampreia, before heeding her pastry calling. After a lengthy stage at The Fat Duck, in Bray, England, in early 2005, Cree returned to Seattle and assumed the role of Pastry Chef at Eva. There she honed her flavor-focused and detail-oriented style.
Cree spent several highly influential weeks staging with Alex Stupak at WD-50, in New York. Upon returning to Seattle, she took the helm at Veil. It was there that she explored modernist technique in a fine dining setting, putting to use lessons learned at WD-50 and The Fat Duck.
When Veil closed in 2008, Cree joined the opening team at Poppy. There she continued to refine and focus her concepts, crafting exciting accessible plates, fit for the high-volume setting. Her work at Poppy earned her recognition from StarChefs, who presented her with a Rising Star award in 2009.
Cree left Seattle in 2010, and after a stage at Noma, in Copenhagen, she returned to the States to work at Alinea in Chicago. There she learned to push the boundaries of possibility. Later that year Cree found herself back in Denmark as the Pastry Chef at Kadeau restaurant, on the island of Bornholm. There she immersed herself in Baltic products, and a New Nordic minimalist style.
When Kadeau closed for the harsh Scandinavian winter, Cree returned to the States, positioning herself under the tutelage of Sherry Yard at Spago Beverly Hills. There she revisited classic techniques, and learned to foster strong relationships with area farmers.
Cree returned to Chicago in 2012, where she now draws on her broad range of experiences as the Pastry Chef at Blackbird and avec. Her thoughtful, nuanced and resoundingly delicious desserts perfectly culminate the divergent dining experiences of both restaurants. In 2013, Cree was nominated for a Jean Banchet Award for Culinary Excellence, recognizing culinary originality and talent in the Chicagoland area. For insights into Dana Cree's culinary exploits, visit ThePastryDepartment.com