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7. Because We Suffer for the Cronut

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Dominique Ansel, 5:40 a.m.; 7 a.m.; 7:30 a.m.; 7:59 a.m.  

Dominique Ansel—pastry chef and baker, inventor of the Cronut™—rolls out of bed a little before 4 a.m., and by 5:40, later than usual, he’s off, on his way to his bakery in Soho. When he arrives, there are already three young girls from NYU lined up for Cronuts. (Ansel says the earliest anyone’s gotten in line is 2 a.m.) He greets Anthony the Cronut bouncer—who prevents solicitors and other shady characters from bothering the customers—and heads inside, where a few staffers are busy laminating croissant dough and unmolding metal rings from fresh-baked DKA pastries (a kind of caramelized croissant), still the shop’s best-selling item. By the time he arrives, the bakers have already been at work for four hours.

In fact, the kitchens at Dominique Ansel Bakery are running 24 hours, with 22 employees and eight bakers working in shifts. Ansel staffed up to meet demand after he introduced Cronuts on May 10 and almost instantly became internationally famous. (Cronuts are just one of Ansel’s many inventions, but they gained attention because frying croissant dough like a doughnut requires serious technical wizardry. The funny name helped, too.) He now cranks out between 350 and 400 a day, and they all sell out.

By 6:15, Ansel is in his whites, and the Cronuts hit the fryer soon after. They’re all fried in two tiny pots set on induction burners,and he monastically cooks four or five at a time in each pot. They only take 45 seconds to finish, but it takes him about 45 minutes to get through the whole batch.

The Cronuts are left to cool, then taken to a back kitchen to be filled with chocolate cream. When that’s done, batches are brought to the front prep area to be glazed, sprinkled with gold dust, and put into their golden domed boxes. At 7:59, Ansel opens the front door for the customers. They cheer—they actually cheer—when they see him. He smiles: “Come in. ­Welcome.”


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