Really, I had no idea the Cronut would blow up in the way it did. A few years’ ago, I had this idea for a part-croissant, part-doughnut pastry for Mothers’ Day. This was in my New York bakery. After we launched, a blogger came down to check it out. He put the article online and then called me that same night. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said. “Our traffic has exploded. Expect to be busy.” And we were. The first day, we sold out in 15 minutes; the second day, in 10. By the third day, we had a line of, maybe, a hundred or more people waiting at the door. That’s how the crazy began. And it continues.
We still get queues; it’s still an obsession. But that’s not the only thing we do. I said to myself pretty early on, I don’t want to be defined by one creation, I want to keep inventing. That’s why when we opened in London, we added new, exclusive dishes like the banoffee paella, an upside-down riff on the original pie made in a small pan to caramelise the bananas. It’s about trying to create an emotional connection with food: simple things that people remember. I didn’t want the Cronut to kill that creativity.
It’s the same thinking with our next project: 189 by Dominique Ansel, my first ever full-service restaurant, will open later this year, inspired by lots of different influences in, yes, Los Angeles. So why not New York? It’s the question I’ve been asked a few times. Well, first, because LA is a city I love. New York has so much going on but, still, when it comes to food, LA is even more eclectic. It’s the whole world in one city: so, at lunch, you’re in Mexico eating some amazing tacos; for dinner, you’re in Korea eating a raw crab dish in Koreatown or in France at French chef Ludo Lefebvre’s seriously good fine-diner Trois Mec. There’s a lot of talent here. And what’s interesting is how chefs aren’t bound by one style of cooking; they might use French techniques with Japanese ingredients, maybe with some South American influence, too. Really, if you like to travel when you eat and eat when you travel, there’s no better city in the world than LA. It’s that open-mindedness that makes it ideal for a restaurant like ours that isn’t tied to one style of cooking. Or one single creation.