World Famous Pastry Chef Survives on Espresso, Cronut Nibbles and Passion
You might think the inventor of the Cronut has had enough success and accolades to be able to relax a little, but the reality is that Dominique Ansel still wakes up at the same time many ravers go to bed. Except for five-minute lunches, his days are spent on his feet ensuring the quality of every item served at his Soho bakery is exceptional. On top of that, Ansel is now out promoting his gorgeous new cookbook, Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes. (For those in NYC, there's a pre-release party with a limited number of advance copies at the bakery this Saturday, October 25.) And he's planning a Tokyo bakery for 2015. “Japan is the dream for any chef who wants to open a new place. They love French culture; they love American brunch, they love bakeries. It is a perfect place for me, the people really respect the craft and the role of baking, and there is a lot to do there that hasn’t been touched yet.” In bringing the real Cronut to the people of Japan, Ansel will also be carrying on an infamous tradition from his downtown store. “The Japanese love to wait in line,” he says. “They will wait 2 to 3 hours for pancakes!”
We caught up with the pastry chef at his Wonderland Party for the New York City Wine & Food Festival to find out what a typical day looks like.
3-4 a.m.: Dominique gets up incredibly early and heads down to the bakery where he has just a cup of coffee.
8-9 a.m.: Before taste testing the day’s batch of Cronuts (rough!) Dominique has his actual breakfast, a DKA—probably the second most sought after pastry at the bakery after the Cronut. His version of a kouign-amann, the DKA is no less rich. Watch him describe it here.
1-2 p.m. Lunch is very light for the James Beard Award winner—a panini, soup or salad from the bakery. Ansel never eats whole meals; he just spends the day tasting.
2-7 p.m. Dominique makes it through the afternoon slump with 2-3 espressos, a healthy dose of water and a bit more from the bakery. “In the afternoon I love to have a canelé. It’s my go-to snack. I like the outside. It’s crunchy and dark and it’s not too sweet.”
7-8 p.m.: If he’s lucky this is when he’ll go out for dinner, which is often soba or sushi. Otherwise he eats dinner between 10 and 11 p.m. That leaves him just enough time to catch up on some email before turning in at midnight for a restful three hours of sleep.