Cronut creator and Pastry Chef Dominique Ansel shares the products and places he loves most.
The buzz surrounding Dominique Ansel’s croissant/donut hybrid—The Cronut—may be at fever pitch, but the proprietor of New York City’s eponymous Dominique Ansel Bakery is already onto the next big sweet thing: The Magical Soufflé.
“I don’t want the creations to kill the creativity,” says Ansel of his latest culinary invention, a perfectly soft and airy soufflé enclosed within a homemade brioche bun. “And that’s why we push ourselves to do something different every day. Some people prefer the Frozen S’more to the Cronut, and it’s for vice versa for others. Desserts are very much a matter of personal taste, and my thought is: the more you create the more people you please.”
With the accolades piling up for his newest pastry phenomenon, Ansel took a few minutes out of the kitchen to chat with Relish about his cooking habits and kitchen must-haves.
Relish: What’s the one cooking tool you cannot live without?
Dominique Ansel (DA): A mini Ateco offset spatula, and a paring knife as a close second.
Relish: What has been your biggest kitchen splurge?
DA: For the bakery, probably our Carpigiani ice cream machine or Rondo dough sheeter. But for home, a Fagor Futuro 6qt pressure cooker is probably the most I’ve ever splurged.
Relish: What’s the one cooking device at the top of your wish list right now?
DA: A blast freezer would be a blessing.
Relish: What old-school baking tool do you think is ripe for a comeback?
DA: Hmm…I love the old-school food mills, [which give] just a different texture of puree than a food processor.
Relish: What’s the first cookbook you ever owned? And the most recent one you’ve purchased
DA: Larousse Gastronomique was probably the first cookbook. And my book agent recently got me a second edition copy of it that is gorgeous and ancient and from the heart.
Relish: What are the three ingredients you always have in your refrigerator and/or pantry?
DA: An artisanal Ho Yuan soy sauce from Hong Kong, sesame oil and rock sugar (I’m learning to cook Chinese food at home).
Relish: What’s the strangest ingredient you’ve ever tried to fashion into a dessert? (And was it successful?)
DA: Most recently? Probably the black truffle. We used it in a caramel for macarons, and it flew off the shelves. But being that we used real truffles (not truffle oil), the season is so short and fleeting.
Relish: What’s your favorite music to listen to while in the kitchen?
DA: Right now we’re on Pandora for the ‘60s. We work in an open kitchen, so what the customers listen to is what we listen to.
Relish: What’s your favorite meal to cook—beginning to end—for company?
DA: It really depends on the company. These days I love to do hotpot (remember, I’m learning to cook Chinese), because it’s fun and interactive and makes for the easiest clean up. But on the French side, my go to dish is cassoulet; the recipe takes a good three days, but it’s well worth it.
Relish: What’s your favorite food city? And your favorite restaurant(s) within that city?
DA: Recently I’ve been eating a lot of Japanese food because my stomach can no longer handle the vast amounts of meat and cheese that used to characterize my very French diet. I think the Sushi Omakase at Sushi Zen [in New York City] is top-notch and the sea urchin at 15 East is addictive.
Relish: What’s the last restaurant that truly wowed you?
Relish: What’s your favorite food-related app?
DA: Hmm…not sure if it’s food-related, but I really want to be able to make a cool Flixel.
Relish: If you could only make one dessert for the rest of your career, what would it be?
The DKA (Dominique’s Kouign Amann)—a caramelized croissant we do with a crispy sugary crust and tender and moist flaky layers inside. I eat one everyday for breakfast.