Love the Cronut? Thank Dominique Ansel
If you were an avid foodie in the summer of 2013, you probably remember that excitement imbued in you from the introduction of one of the most innovative pastry creations in history. This delicious sweet was the cronut. This was a hybrid between a croissant and a donut that is fried and filled with a cream cheese center. And its effect was electrifying. Crowds of hundreds of people would start to line up at 7 a.m. in front of the Dominique Ansel Bakery in the Soho neighborhood of New York City with the cronut being sold out within an hour of the bakery opening its doors. If you have been fortunate enough to have an original cronut from this esteemed bakery, then you have Dominique Ansel, owner of the Dominique Ansel Bakery and pastry pioneer, to thank.
Ansel knew he wanted to pursue the art of pastry from a young age. His first permanent job at a restaurant was at the renowned Fauchon where he was hired as a seasonal worker but was kept on even after the holiday season was over because of his outstanding work. After ground breaking work at Fauchon, he traveled to America to work for the acclaimed chef Daniel Boulud at the restaurant Daniel where he was pastry chef. Ansel was part of the team at Daniel that allowed the restaurant to acquire three Michelin stars, an exclusive honor in the world of chefs only reserved for the best restaurants in existence. After success at Daniel, Ansel left to found his own bakery, Dominique Ansel Bakery. It was here that Ansel was allowed more of his own creativity to reign which allowed him to create some of the most iconic sweet inventions of all time.
The creation of the cronut was not a one step process. It required numerous experiments in order to create the right ratio of croissant dough and donut batter to maintain the flakiness of a croissant and the density of a donut. However, due to Ansel’s expert pastry palette, this proved a shorter and more successful task than a novice baker could surmount. Ansel’s years of experience in the world of pastry making allowed him to create something completely novel that certainly had its merit in the pastry world.
Ansel has said that he “doesn’t want the creation to kill our creativity.” Ansel does not want the cronut to prevent him from continuing to create unique pastries. Ansel compares himself to Van Gogh in an interview with The Guardian by saying that if Van Gogh had stopped at one painting, then no one would know his name and he would not have had the same influence on the domain of art. Ansel applies this to his condition because he wants to be the Van Gogh of pastries. He wants to be known to be one of the most creative and influential pastry chiefs of this time. In this way, Ansel is both intrinsically and extrinsically motivated by fame and his own self-worth (Collins and Amabile). Ansel wants the notoriety of being a great baker, but he is also grappling with what he wants to be remembered for. Even though great creativity is not often associated with extrinsic motivations, Ansel’s extrinsic motivations are anchored in intrinsic reasoning. These opposing forms of motivation all compel Ansel to continue his creative work.