my thoughts on dominique ansel.

So if you’re a New Yorker (or a foodie anywhere or anyone who is facebook friends with me), you’ve probably heard about the cronut craze. If not, in short, a pastry chef named Dominque Ansel (of Dominique Ansel Bakery in Soho) created a hybrid pastry: a cross between a croissant and a donut complete with pastry creme of the month (examples: Lemon Maple, Vanilla Rose) and glistening with glaze. He debuted this pastry a mere two months ago and since then it has become a viral sensation. People line up outside the bakery hours before opening, and the cronut supply is usually gone within an hour. Copy-cats have popped up all over the world. The cronut even has its own wikepedia page.  Don’t believe me? Google it.
This, my friends, is a shining example of the power of food. At first it seems a bit insane what some people will do just for a taste of this breakfast pastry. But then again, I am one of those people. I totally get it. I want to try the cronut despite taste aversions to donuts. I want to experience the sensation. And yes, I want the brag rights.

As any foodie would, I got really interested in the cronut and researched it while I should have been reviewing hormones for the MCAT (oops) and then started reading all about Dominque Ansel. And became a bit obsessed. You could even say I have a crush on him. And what I find so adorable about this man who is obviously far too old for me is not so much his looks (although he ain’t bad on the eyes either), but rather, his passion.

Do me a favor and watch this video right now. If you even like shameless foodporn even a LITTLE, it’s a must:

Salivating yet? I am. No doubt that rectangular prism of ice-cream covered ecstasy is enticing, but I was almost more moved by the focus and delicacy of its assemble. Did you see Mr. Ansel? It’s so adorably evident that he is absolutely in LOVE with what he does! He takes great pride in his work – and with good reason. His pastries are true works of art.

food is art. (this is from le pain quotidian in paris)
food is art. (this is from le pain quotidian in paris)

For more evidence, take this excerpt from his cronut website: (these are his instructions for eating a cronut):

Please do eat Cronuts immediately as they have a short shelf life. And if you do cut, please use a serrated knife, so as not to crush the layers. Never refrigerate these treats as the humidity from the refrigerator will cause them to go stale and soggy.


See?!? He’s all about the art and maintaing the beauty and integrity of his masterpieces! It’s so endearing!

In a way, my own personal cronut craze-turned-stalking-of-dominque made me realize what it is exactly about cooking and baking that I love so much. It’s my form of art. I’ve never been “artsy” despite great efforts. I tried out at least 6 instruments and although I practiced and applied myself, I never really felt a spark of interest or excelled at any of them. I can’t carry a tune for my life so I couldn’t be a cool choir or show kid. I’m not good at drawing or painting or beading or anything like that. But this is all probably why I came back time and time again to cooking and baking. It is a true art and science and as honest an expression of creativity as anything produced in art class. Cooking and baking allow me to play and try new things in a safe environment. It lets me hyperfocus and clear my mind. There are moments when I’m so absorbed in a baking project that it seems as though all of life’s problems would be solved with the pastry bag tip. It’s very freeing. And it’s the only way I can feel like an accomplished artist, capable of producing an enjoying and delicious piece of art on a daily basis.

food/art. from Le Reve in wauwatosa, wisconsin
food/art. from Le Reve in wauwatosa, wisconsin

So thank you Dominique Ansel, for reminding me what it is that makes cooking and baking so satisfying and beautiful. You are so deserving of success. Please keep creating and inspiring me as a pastry chef and chaser-of-dreams.



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