Chef Dana Cree of Blackbird - Biography

Chicago, IL

August 2014

Her career may have taken her as far as Denmark, but Seattle native Dana Cree laid the foundations right in her hometown. She got her foot in the door in 2000, studying in the culinary and baking and pastry programs at the city’s Art Institute, before working the savory side of the kitchen for three years at Seattle’s Lampreia. Not that Cree was reluctant to quit her city. After stages at The Fat Duck in Bray, England (on the savory side) and wd~50 in New York City (in pastry), Cree returned to Seattle, ready this time to quit savory and dive passionately into pastry.

Cree took pastry chef positions at Eva and Veil. Her desserts at Veil were intricate and complex—indicative of the kind of forward-thinking polish that would drive her style in fine dining. At Poppy, the casual, seasonal restaurant from Chef Jerry Traunfield, Cree reworked her concepts to make them exciting, accessible, and feasible for a high-volume setting, earning a 2009 StarChefs.com Rising Stars Award.

Cree left Seattle in 2010, pushing her modernist craft at Noma in Copenhagen and later Alinea in Chicago, returning to Denmark to work at Michelin-starred Kadeau. Back in the States, she worked with Spago’s legendary Sherry Yard before taking on her current postings at Blackbird and avec in Chicago. A finalist for the 2014 Outstanding Pastry Chef James Beard Award, Cree still studiously attends to her critically acclaimed blog, ThePastryDepartment.com.