Tuesday, April 4, 2017

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.


Collins, M. A., & Amabile, T. M. (1999). Motivation and creativity. In Robert J. Sternberg (Ed.) Handbook of Creativity.New York: Cambridge University Press.



  1. Very interesting--I love the cronut! I find it interesting how many professional chef stories start out with them working under another chef, then they end up being far more successful than that chef, such as the owner of Alinea. I also love how once he realized what he wanted to do, he had to take time to figure out the perfect proportions. Perhaps that is part of his creative process as well.

    What do you think his creative process to create the cronut was, other than motivation? Do you think that he feels these intrinsic/extrinsic motivations because of the success of the cronut or do you think they started pre-cronut and just continue to grow? I wonder how he was inspired to create the cronut or even why he thought it would be delicious. Either way, glad he did and can't wait to taste more of his creations!

  2. This is a fantastic example of the trajectory of a creative product, and how it originates to how it is currently perceived in the public eye. What I love about the process of creativity and its outcome is that it is such a huge part of many objects and ideas that we take for granted. It is only when that process is revealed that we truly can try to understand and appreciate the creative product or idea as a whole. I appreciate Ansel's comparison of himself to Van Gogh, and how it's important to go beyond one idea and continue to create to make others, so as not to diminish further creativity and change. This statement by Ansel depicts a truly creative mind.

  3. This was such an amazing creation. I remember working in a bakery when this first came out and how my boss wanted to start making them. I found his own analogy to Van Gogh to be very interesting especially since it is from a completely different domain. It truly is important to not stop after one creative endeavor. I cannot wait to see more from Ansel. Additionally, I wonder if since he had always wanted to be a chef/baker since he was a child, if there was also a strong influence from a particular family member or the family as a whole. He definitely deserves to have his name known for creating such a wonderful treat!


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