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Dominique Ansel's Cronut Turns 9
The chef is celebrating with plans to expand to Las Vegas and a generous donation to City Harvest
Chef Dominique Ansel’s Cronut® celebrated its ninth birthday on May 10: The pastry became an instant sensation at Ansel’s little Manhattan shop (189 Spring St., Manhattan), with lines forming hours before the shop opened with people hoping to get their hands on one of the treats. Nearly a decade later, the Cronut remains Ansel’s best-loved item.
Ansel recalls that he had just opened his bakery a year earlier with his wife, Amy Ma, and had only four employees when the Cronut craze started. “I was building the bakery and wanted to do something special for the weekend.”
Ansel spent months perfecting the recipe for this new creation that started with a laminated dough that is proofed and then fried in grapeseed oil. The pastry is then rolled in sugar, filled with cream, and topped with glaze. Ansel dubbed it the Cronut®. “When we launched the Cronut, it was madness overnight,” says Ansel.
Suddenly, Ansel found himself working 22 hours a day in his shop’s tiny 10-foot by 6-foot kitchen, to satisfy the demand for his creation. “I was getting two hours of sleep a night. We were selling out of everything, not just the Cronut, but everything else. We would take care of the line, and take care of the people, but there was also a limit to what we could produce. We decided to focus on quality over quantity,” he tells Broken Palate.
The Cronut was named one of Time magazine’s 25 best inventions of 2013. Thanks, in part to social media, it became a global phenomenon with a cottage industry forming of people willing to wait in line at the bakery for a fee. “We saw people reselling their spots on line,” says the chef. To counterbalance this, the bakery instituted a two-Cronut-per-person limit on sales.
Ansel has more stories regarding Cronut madness — like when he caught a group of women dumpster diving. “Not all Cronuts are perfect, and a few mishappen Cronuts were discarded one evening. One of our chefs called me at 11 p.m. and told me these girls were picking our trash for the damaged pastries. They don’t cost much, but they wanted this one clear bag.”
Ansel also shared a story of a taxi driver who related a story of taking his kids to get a Cronut. “He had no idea who I was, but just shared that he had a great time. That’s the beauty of the Cronut— anyone can come and get one.”
Thankfully, Ansel and his team have made it slightly easier to get your hands on a Cronut. You can still visit the bakery (a line queues up one hour before the bakery opens at 8 a.m. Monday to Saturday and 9 a.m. on Sunday). There’s also a pre-order list that opens every Monday at 11 a.m. at cronutpreorder.com. Guests can pre-order up to a dozen Cronuts for pick-up at the NYC shop two weeks later. The Cronut is also available for nationwide shipping at dominiqueanselonline.com.
People visiting Las Vegas will soon be able to get their fill of Cronut when Dominique Ansel Las Vegas opens at Caesars Palace Las Vegas. The shop is set to open in Summer 2022 and will offer signature pastries along with an entirely new menu of creations made just for this location.
This Saturday, May 21, Dominique Ansel Bakery will donate 10 percent of Cronut sales towards City Harvest’s Share Lunch, Fight Hunger (SLFH) campaign, which is raising funds from May 9 to June 3 to feed more than 15,000 NYC children and their families for the entire summer when access to free school meals may become limited.
Ansel says that helping to fight hunger is very important to him. “I grew up humbly. My parent didn’t have much money and it was difficult to put food on the table. I know what it’s like counting pennies to buy food. It’s important for me to give back,” he says.