Alex Halberstadt investigates the magical allure of Cronuts™ and their now-famous inventor.
The next time you read about Dominique Ansel, the pastry chef of the moment, don't envy him. During the several days we spent together, I began to think of him as a kind of confectionary Van Gogh—a pioneering artist molested by a capricious destiny. Over the course of our brief acquaintance, Ansel taught me about the quickening power of the Internet, perseverance and the passive-aggressive behavior of the first couple of France.
I first scoped out the Cronut™ frenzy in front of Ansel's eponymous Soho, New York, bakery on an early morning in October. At 6:45 it was still murky, but the line had wound its way along the chain-link fence of the Vesuvio Playground and around the corner, onto Thompson Street. Among the youngish, drowsy Cronut™ hopefuls, the savvy had brought friends, and lounged in folding chairs or on discreetly placed cardboard; others stood, drawn up in the chill, their downturned faces lit by the bluish glare of smart-phones. The reason for the commotion was, of course, Ansel's croissant-doughnut hybrid—laminated, glazed, heightened to beehive-hairdo proportions, fried in grapeseed oil and injected with a filling of the month, like Tahitian vanilla cream and caramelized apple.