Dominique Ansel (born 1978) is a French-born pastry chef and owner of Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York City. Since its opening in November 2011, the chef's eponymous bakery has become known for many signature creations including the Cronut, Cookie Shot, DKA (Dominique's Kouign Amann), Frozen S'mores, and many other pastries. He is also the chef/owner of Dominique Ansel Kitchen in New York, Dominique Ansel Bakery Japan in Tokyo, Dominique Ansel Bakery London, Dominique Ansel Bakery Los Angeles, and 189 by Dominique Ansel, also in Los Angeles. In April 2017, he was named the World's Best Pastry Chef by the World's 50 Best Restaurants awards, making him the youngest and only U.S.-based chef to be awarded the honor.
Raised in a working-class family in Beauvais, a small city north of Paris, Dominique is the youngest of four children. After high school, he apprenticed at local restaurants, first working in savory and then in pastry, gravitating most strongly to the scientific precision of pastry. At age 19, Dominique went on to do his military service in French Guiana as part of a community program teaching locals how to cook.
Upon returning to France, he invested his savings in a car and drove to Paris, dropping off resumes at any bakery he could find, eventually landing at the legendary Fauchon as one of thirty seasonal holiday workers. The holiday workers were told that only one would be retained after the season. Ansel was chosen to be retained, where he remained for nearly eight years, working his way up from seasonal staff to leading the company's international expansion, opening up shops around the world, including Russia, Egypt, and Kuwait.
Prior to starting his own business, Dominique became well known in New York as the executive pastry chef at Daniel, the flagship French restaurant of Daniel Boulud. During his six years there, Dominique was part of the team that led the restaurant to receive three Michelin stars, the James Beard Outstanding Restaurant of the Year Award (2010), and the restaurant's first four-star New York Times rating.
Dominique Ansel Bakery
In November 2011, with a team of just four employees, Dominique opened his first shop, Dominique Ansel Bakery, on Spring Street in New York's Soho neighborhood. The bakery quickly became a neighborhood destination, being named Time Out New York's Best Bakery and Zagat's highest ranked bakery in the city shortly after opening.
It wasn't until two years later, on May 10, 2013, that Dominique created a new pastry, the Cronut, a croissant and doughnut hybrid pastry that has been reported on around the world, putting the bakery on the map worldwide. Within hours, pictures of the Cronut went viral in the social media sphere (over 140K links and later news of it reached Yahoo’s homepage to reach millions of viewers). By August 2013, the lines averaged at several hundred people per day, rain or shine. Since then, every day since its launch, the pastry has continued to sell out each morning just a few short hours after opening. After its launch, Cronut fans have spanned the world from Berlin to Singapore, making it the most virally talked about dessert item in history. TIME magazine even named the Cronut one of the 25 Best Inventions of 2013.
The Cronut is available in Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York, and, since June 2015, at Dominique Ansel Bakery Japan Taking two months and more than 10 different recipes to perfect, Chef Dominique’s creation is not to be mistaken as simply croissant dough that’s been fried. Made with a laminated dough which has been likened to a croissant (but uses a proprietary recipe with a different ratio of ingredients, different thickness, and different number of folds), the Cronut pastry is first proofed and then fried in grapeseed oil at a specific temperature. Once cooked, each Cronut is flavored in three ways: 1. rolled in sugar; 2. filled with cream; and 3. topped with glaze. Cronut pastries are made fresh daily, and completely in done in house. The entire process takes up to three days.
2014 saw a number of moments in Dominique’s career, from winning the prestigious James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef in the country, to publishing his very first cookbook, Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes. In April 2015, he opened his second shop in New York, Dominique Ansel Kitchen, in the West Village, followed by his first international location, Dominique Ansel Bakery Japan, in Tokyo’s Omotesando neighborhood in June 2016.
His first shop in Europe, Dominique Ansel Bakery London, opened in September 2016 just between Belgravia and Victoria.
In March 2017, Dominique opened his second shop in Japan, Dominique Ansel Bakery Japan at Ginza Mitsukoshi.
In November 2017, Dominique opened his first-ever restaurant, 189 by Dominique Ansel, in Los Angeles at The Grove. The two-story space features the restaurant upstairs, and Dominique's eponymous bakery on the first floor.
Dominique has been honored with a number of awards and accolades during his career, from being named one of the "Top 10 Pastry Chefs in the United States" by Dessert Professional magazine in 2009, and Time Out New York's "Top Ten Pastry Chefs You Need to Know" in the city in 2010. He was later named as one of Crain’s New York Business's "40 Under 40," Business Insider’s "Most Innovative People Under 40," and Vanity Fair France’s "50 Most Influential French in the World." In 2015, he was awarded the prestigious Ordre du Mérite Agricole, one of the highest honours in France, for his dedication to promotion French culture and cuisine.
In April 2017, he was named the World's Best Pastry Chef by the World's 50 Best Restaurants awards, making him the youngest and only U.S.-based chef to be awarded the honor.
Popular pastries and desserts
Some of Ansel's creations include:
The Cronut: Ansel's signature creation, a doughnut and croissant hybrid. Made with laminated dough from a proprietary recipe, it is sugared, filled and glazed. The bakery produces a different flavor each month. Past flavors include Rose Vanilla, Blackberry Lime, Fig Mascarpone and Apple Crème Fraîche . The Cronut name is a registered trademark of Dominique Ansel Bakery in the U.S. and internationally in most countries.
Dominique's Kouign Amann (The DKA): Inspired by the Breton kouign-amann, the DKA is similar to a caramelized croissant with tender flaky layers on the inside and a crunchy caramelized shell on the outside. It was named one of Time Out New York’s 100 best dishes in 2012.
Frozen S’more: Inspired by the Turkish dondurma, the Frozen S’more is made with Tahitian vanilla ice cream on the inside that's covered in chocolate feulletine, then enveloped in honey marshmallow, placed on an applewood-smoked willow branch and torched to order. It was named Time Out New York's 'Dish of the Moment' in 2013.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Shot: Debuted at SXSW 2014 in Austin, Texas, the Chocolate Chip Cookie Shot is a warm chocolate chip cookie shaped into a shot glass, and filled with cold-infused Tahitian vanilla bean milk to order. Cookie Shots are served starting at 3pm daily at the Bakery.
Gingerbread Pinecone: A layered pastry with a crunchy hazelnut feuilletine base, a layer of soft spiced cake surrounded by speculoos ganache and ginger mousse, and finished with 60-70 individual chocolate petals.
Christmas Morning Cereal: The Bakery’s first cereal, which is available each holiday season. Made with Valrhona Caramelia milk chocolate puffed rice, caramelized hazelnuts, and miniature smoked cinnamon meringues.
Blossoming Hot Chocolate: A marshmallow flower that blossoms inside a cup of hot chocolate. The marshmallow is surrounded by a thin ring of white chocolate, and when placed into the hot chocolate, "blossoms," and reveals a chocolate bonbon surprise inside.
Ansel supports various charities, including the fight to end hunger with Food Bank for New York City. In August 2013, he worked with Bartle Bogle Hegarty to launch The Cronut® Project, which raised money for the Food Bank via donations from Cronut sales.
In September 2013, Dominique Ansel Bakery partnered with Shake Shack to offer a limited amount of Cronut Hole Concretes. Hundreds of people lined up as early as 4am at a chance to purchase one of the 1000 Cronut Hole Concretes. All proceeds were donated to the NYPD Widows and Children Fund and Madison Square Park Conservancy. More than $5,300 was raised.
At a live auction in October 2013 to benefit City Harvest’s Bid Against Hunger, Dominique, Questlove and auctioneer Nicho Lowry, auctioned a dozen freshly baked Cronut pastries for $14,000 in less than twenty minutes.
In November, 2013, Dominique Ansel Bakery collaborated on The Cronut Mission with celebrities such as Heidi Klum, Joan Rivers and the cast of several Broadway shows to raise money for God’s Love We Deliver, a soup kitchen located near the bakery in SoHo. Thanksgiving Cronut pastries filled with pumpkin cream and topped with 24-karat gold leaf, were placed in packages specially designed and autographed by the participating celebs. The Cronut Mission raised $9,340.00, to fund meals for God’s Love We Deliver’s clients who are too sick to shop or cook for themselves.
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