Dominique Ansel | Mindfulness and Delicious Creation

Pastry Chef Dominique Ansel is known worldwide for his creation of the Cronut®, a croissant-doughnut hybrid pastry. He grew up in a rough part of France where his family didn’t have much. As a way to help them, he began working in a local restaurant at the age of sixteen, first in savory and later learning the art of pastry.

“It was pastry and baking that really intrigued me. I loved that it’s a science and everything needs to be measured and precise,” says Pastry Chef Dominique.

Ansel always dreamed of traveling and going to either to New York or Tokyo after working in France. While he was still working at Fauchon in Paris, he received a call from Daniel Boulud, who was looking for an Executive Pastry Chef for his restaurant Daniel in New York City.

“New York was a new challenge for me; it drew me in – the energy, the opportunity for something new. Everyone told me it would be too hard, and that was enough reason for me to try,” he says.

Seemingly to Dominique’s hybrid pastry creations, the technique, foundation and skills in baking and cooking that he has acquired in Europe in combination with the hospitality business culture in the U.S. gave birth to the unique experience of taking care of his guests.

He finds inspiration everywhere – it comes from traveling, from art and architecture, fashion and technology… Always curious and persistent, Dominique envisions an idea that he knows can become something great. While figuring out how to make it work, he tries as much as necessary until it manifests the way he sees it correctly.

“For us, it’s always about pushing forward with creativity and always continuing to create. We never focus on just one creation or let it stop us from coming up with new ideas. That’s why we change our menus every six to eight weeks – it’s important for me to continue evolving,” says Dominique.

His innovative approach to the art of pastry and creative process led to An sel receiving the prestigious title of the “World’s Best Pastry Chef 2017” awarded by the World’s Best 50 Restaurants List.

“It was a very humbling experience and I’m so grateful to have been considered for it. I’ve never set out to be the ’world’s best’ anything, but I did always want to try my best for the world. I learned along the way that it’s never a one-man effort, and I’m so thankful to have an incredible team around me and for our guests. They’re my inspiration to go forward and work even harder,” he says.

Since he opened his first Dominique Ansel Bakery in 2011 in SoHo, New York, he has expanded into one more location in Los Angeles and also his first-ever restaurant in 2017, two more stores in Tokyo, Japan and the first European bakery in London.

Dominique Ansel chooses to be present in international cities filled with thriving culture and art. Cities that bring as much inspiration as him and his team hope to bring back to it.

“With Tokyo, it was about the talent and the level of skilled pastry chefs there, and with London, it was about being able to source really incredible ingredients from throughout Europe. With Los Angeles, it’s about the possibility of space and what we can do with it. Each city has a unique appeal,” says Ansel.

“For us, our guests are everything and we always do our best for them. I’ll be forever grateful to have the fans around the world that we do.” – Dominique Ansel.

Following his values of mindfulness – meaning, always mindful in his growth and expansion and making sure that both he and his team are growing in ways that feel like they’re creating and adding something to the culinary world. In 2015, he created Dominique Ansel Kitchen with a concept of “time is an ingredient” and a unique sweet U.P. experience – short for Unlimited Possibilities.

“When you’re a pastry chef in a restaurant, you always have to follow the style of the chef, and dessert is always the end of a meal that the chef has created. You never really get to tell your own story, so with U.P., it was a chance to create an experience and tell a story through desserts, from start to finish. We change our menus every six months or so, each centered around a theme, and it’s a way for us to express ourselves through dessert in a really different way,” states Dominique.

For everyone, the meaning of success varies but for Dominique, it is for sure the moment he sees his guests taste something that he created and smile.

Photography by Thomas Schauer