One month ago, Dominique Ansel Bakery opened its doors in London with the man himself there to meet the crowd waiting to taste his pastries and cakes. One above all: the cronut. I was one of hundreds of Londoners who stood in line for hours to get a taste of his world-famous creations. A few days later I received an invitation to attend a breakfast gathering with Dominique Ansel on the London Eye. Louis Fernando, a London-based PR who shares beautiful food photos on Instagram @tuckandvine, attended the event on my behalf. He shares his thoughts and photos in this guest post. I hope you’ll like it!
An Audience with “Mr Cronut” Dominique Ansel
Words and photos by Louis Fernando
In 2016 England is officially obsessed with baking. Our neighbourhoods are now filled with bakeries and sprinkled with patisseries. In fact, in recent times it feels like there’s a hip new and exciting homegrown project to investigate every month – so why all the fuss then about some guy called Dominique and this thing called a Cronut?
For the uninitiated, Dominique Ansel is the inventor of the Cronut® – a half-croissant / half-doughnut hybrid which took New York (and subsequently the world) by storm when it was first launched in 2013.
I was fortunate enough to attend an intimate breakfast with Dominique to hear first hand about the launch of his first London bakery on Elizabeth Street Belgravia, which opened its doors at the end of September. As befitting of a personality as lofty as Ansel it only seemed right that the event was held in an all-too-tiny capsule aboard the London Eye.
An 8am start was rewarded with a crisp, clear Autumnal London day, perfect for sweeping panoramic views of the Southbank, Westminster and beyond.
However any ideas of a leisurely morning circuit spent gazing across London were quickly dispelled. Upon entering the capsule we were presented with a beaming Dominique Ansel, behind him a veritable ‘garden’ of pastry – plates piled high with patisserie and baked goods fresh from the new bakery.
With a keen eye on the pastries, we listened as Dominique told us the story of what life was like B.C (before Cronut) and how he ended up as a pastry chef in New York. The past three years have been a whirlwind for Ansel and in addition to opening a bakery in Tokyo and new dessert restaurant concept not far from Union Square, he’s also had to deal with intellectual property theft (anyone seen a ‘Fauxnut’ or a ‘Cro-dough’ recently?).
To the pastries. Delving into the first basket, Dominique swiftly conjured a tray containing the only savoury item on the menu – his Welsh Rarebit Croissant – his riff on the classic beer and melted cheese snack which substitutes toasted bread for croissant pastry.
Next up was the ‘DKA’ (Dominique’s Kouign Amann) – a wonderfully dense lump of pastry with a crispy sugared crown – apparently he tweaked the recipe to use less butter and sugar, not that you’d know it. Worth the calories.
More doughnut than croissant, the Cronut is unsurprisingly rich – a heart-stopping dose of pastry doubled with a hefty dose of crème patisserie and tooth aching sugar glaze. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Thankfully the queues at the bakery seem to have died down so if you’re willing to part with £4 to try this much talked about item – I’d definitely recommend giving it a try.
Dominique and his team have clearly worked hard to get here and in a world increasingly filled with copycats he is determined to establish himself as forward thinking and original. His team apparently spent half a year developing the unique London-only items for his bakery – and the time and effort spent perfecting these clearly shows. Competition is a good thing when it comes to bakeries and Ansel seems to be in this not for the quick buck but for the long run. Maybe it’s the sugar taking over but I’m genuinely excited to see what this French magician pulls out of his hat next.
Disclaimer: the complimentary press event was organised by Dominique Ansel PR team. All opinions are our own.