The Cronut Creed: Dominique Ansel’s Top Five Rules About The Cronut

Since launching the croissant-donut hybrid known as The Cronut on May 10th, Dominique Ansel has never been the same. Instantly, the famed French pastry chef’s namesake bakery in Soho has become the hottest New York venue between the hours of 5:30am and 8am – and it’s not even a nightclub. 

Folks from as far as Dubai and Australia are flying in to get a taste of the flaky, creamy, sweet phenomenon. This week, I sat down with the chef who – like Madonna and Cher – has now been most commonly referred to as simply "Chef," to discuss The Cronut Creed: his top five rules about baking, devouring, and loving The Cronut.

1. The Cronut Shalt Not Discriminate.

While only 300 cronuts are made a day, and only the early-birds can snag ’em, The Cronut feeds a worldly crowd that’s, according to Dominique, "half tourists, half locals, including people who have flown in from Taiwan, Japan, South America. You name it."

2. The Cronut Shalt Not Be Scalped.

Now that scalpers are flooding Craigslist with under-the-table, expensive cronut offers, food has for the first time become a Craigslist scalping commodity. "And I don’t like it," says Dominique. "It’s why we limit the number of cronuts people can get in the store to two."

3. There Is No Wrong Way To Eat A Cronut.

"You can cut it in half," the chef says. "Just bite into it, take it apart layer by layer. But everyone has their own way. Whichever way you have the most fun eating it, is the best way. My favorite is to cut it in half."

4. The Cronut Must Be Eaten Within Six Hours.

"It takes three days to make, is fresh for six hours, and eaten in 30 seconds," he says. "Eat it while you can."

5. One Shall Be Selfish With Their Cronut.

"A lot of people come in early and alone, and come just for a single cronut for themselves with their coffee. And that’s very okay."

Get the inside-scoop on Dominique Ansel Bakery, & follow Bonnie on Twitter here

The Cronut

Daniel Boulud Launches Exclusive Dalmore Scotch

If a Franco – Scottish accord seems at first a bit odd, it’s perhaps important to remember that friendships are often the product of common foes. Scotland and France, of course, were regularly united (the Auld Alliance, they called it) in opposition to English territorial pissings. And Mary Queen of Scots was the daughter of Marie de Guise, after all–both legendary antagonists of The Crown. But the news that Gallic superstar chef Daniel Boulud has just launched a partnership with Alness-based distillery The Dalmore, we must admit, is really more of an…epicurean thing. And just in time for summer imbibing, The Dalmore Selected by Daniel Boulud will be a feature at all six of his NYC dining establishments: Daniel, Café Boulud, Boulud Sud, db Bistro Moderne, Bar Boulud, and DBGB Kitchen & Bar

In painstaking collaboration with Dalmore master distiller Richard Paterson, the exclusive single malt was conceived to the discriminating tastes of the many-Michelin-starred Boulud, who enlightens that, "the creation of a single malt is an artisanal craft, which takes expertise and time." Matured in American white oak, it is uniquely finished in Muscatel, Madeira, and Port wine casks. The final product is as smooth as velvet; and notes of pears, plums, and mocha are specifically tailored to coaxing the palate to optimum appreciation of the the master chef’s culinary proclivities.

But mind, it’s not all such seriousness. The exquisite new spirit has also been honored with the introduction of a corresponding and imponderably decadent DB dessert temptation: the Chocolate-Coffee-Whisky Sundae, made with whisky gelee, brownies, and a cream brulee tuile.

Alba gu bràth! Vive la République! And all that.

[Related: BlackBook New York Guide; Listings for Daniel, Cafe Boulud, Boulud Sud, db Bistro Moderne, Bar Boulud, DBGB Kitchen & Bar; More by Ken Scrudato; Follow Ken on Twitter]

This Week’s NY Happenings: Taste Of The LES, Maison Premiere, Greenpoint Brunchtacular

THURSDAY: Taste Of The Lower East Side
As benefits with bites go, it’s hard to beat the Taste of the Lower East Side for both breadth and depth. Fifty top neighborhood joints will come together at 82MERCER for an all-you-can-eat extravaganza. Newer hands like Pig and Khao, Jeepney, and The Leadbelly rub shoulders with established pros like Alias and wd-50. There’s craft beer and wine to wash it down, and a danceable soundtrack from DJ AndrewAndrew. A silent auction will tempt you too, with everything from SoulCycle classes to a Rao’s reservation, all to benefit the Grand St. Settlement.

Taste of the Lower East Side starts at 7pm on Thursday, April 25th, at 82MERCER (82 Mercer St., Soho). General admission tickets are $195 ($125 is tax-deductible). To learn more about the event space, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

NOW: One More Trafalgar Julep
Spring has sprung at Williamsburg’s Maison Premiere. A new chef (Lisa Giffen, late of Daniel and Blue Hill) plies the kitchen, and the spring cocktail menu has been unveiled. Enjoy a full lineup of refreshing juleps like the Trafalgar (gin, sherry, crème de menthe, and lemon).

Spring cocktail menu now available at Maison Premiere (298 Bedford Ave., Williamsburg). To learn more about the bar, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

SATURDAY: Honeyed Brunch
To raise money for Sandy recovery, Greenpoint’s t.b.d. is hosting an epic brunch in the yard this Saturday. Neighbors as diverse as Anella, Action Burger, and Selamat Pagi will lay out a spread, accompanied by that most indispensible of brunch items—bottomless mimosas.

Rally Downtown’s Greenpoint Brunchtacular starts at noon on Saturday, April 27th, at t.b.d. (224 Franklin St., Greenpoint). Tickets are $30, or $50 for two. To learn more about the bar, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

Know every inch of this city by visiting BlackBook’s NY City Guides

The Sweet Spot: Celebrating Desserts

For the past 19 years, Dessert Professional Magazine has hosted an awards and tasting party for the country’s top ten pastry chefs. Last night, at the Institute of Culinary Education, New York took the largest piece of the winning pie with chefs Sandro Micheli from Daniel, Marc Aumont from The Modern, Angela Pinkerton from Eleven Madison Park, Damien Harrgott from Bosie Tea Parlor, and the city’s darling, Christina Tosi from Momofuku Milk Bar.

As they lined up with the other winner—Sally Camacho from WP24 in Los Angeles, Craig Harzewski from Naha in Chicago, Nathaniel Reid from Norman Love Confections in Florida, Jean-Marie Auboine from his self-titled shop in Las Vegas, and Chris Hanmer from Las Vegas’s School of Pastry Design—I couldn’t help but notice all the champs were skinny. I’m not talking about just being smaller than Mario Batali, but I-never-even-eat-dessert thin. Oh well, so what if Tosi looks like she could be a vegan? It’s her pretzel and chocolate-chip cake-truffles we really care about.

You can just look at Tosi’s innovative creations to see that the art of dessert has come a long way. While a decade ago the real trick came in making superb chocolate mousse, a moist flourless chocolate cake, or perfect, airy pastries, today’s chefs have made dessert more than the end of the meal treat. They are creating art. Take Pinkerton’s lavender meringue with cocoa sorbet, for example; it didn’t look like anything you would order off a cafeteria sweets bar. The dish she offered had layers of crumble, cold, hard, light, sweet, and sour—all on one plate, which is a theme she carries over to Eleven Madison Park. Tosi too has been known for her original use of packaged crackers, pretzels, and various candies to spruce up cookies and cakes. Based on some of the other dishes at the awards ceremony, this trend isn’t going away, and people like it.

As guests fought to sample the gourmet sweets, past award winner Pichet Ong of Spot Dessert Bar flittered about the tables, garnering an excited “Hey chef” every where he went. Anita Lo of Annisa was also seen heading to the dessert room where Top Chef: Just Desserts Season Two winner Chris Hanmer whipped up a modern looking pineapple confit with a crazy tube of passion fruit studded with cilantro. Hanmer’s show mate and the United States representative of the Culinary Olympics in Germany, pastry chef Sally Camacho, also offered an interesting dessert involving a cup filled with a landscape of fluffy, crumbly, stiff, floral, salty, and chocolaty.           

Across New York you can find enjoyable desserts like the ones represented at the awards including the crazy flavors of rice pudding at Rice to Riches, everything chocolate at The Chocolate Room in Brooklyn, and next level desserts by chef Justin Hilbert of Gwynnett St., also in Brooklyn. If you happen to be in San Francisco, check out Humphry Slocombe ice cream parlor where Jake Godby creates the strangest flavors including salt and pepper, oolong tea, and peanut butter curry.

Despite all the innovative desserts being passed around the culinary school last night, I still go for the simplest, like Jean-Marie Aubione’s perfect chocolates and crispy bars and the bright raspberry and chocolate pastry by Nathaniel Reid. No matter how you like your sweets, though, there is something for everyone to indulge in. 

Hotel Griffou’s David Santos Can Taste Summer

David Santos is excited about the heat. One afternoon last week, the Executive Chef at New York’s Hotel Griffou impatiently awaited the arrival of late spring cherries, “jet black and loaded with sugar,” and later strawberries, peaches, and nectarines, which will flavor the many menus he’s planning for the restaurant’s summer season. Santos has a compulsive need to change at least a quarter of his menu every month, especially the most popular dishes, which he sees over and over again while expediting a busy dinner service. “I have menu ADD,” says the 32-year-old. “I’m always very much into a menu when I create it, but soon I start to get bored with it and can’t wait to change it.”

Less than a year ago, Santos left an executive chef position at Harlem’s The 5&Diamond to take control of the kitchen at the decadent, cleverly-designed 1920s-era Hotel Griffou. The restaurant occupies the entire basement floor of the building that was once Madame Griffou’s boarding house, with later incarnations as the infamous Penguin Club and Mary Lou’s.

Nowadays, Santos is focusing on a series of monthly tasting dinners at the restaurant, which allow him to break the bonds of the regular menu and offer his guests a less conventional dining experience. He sees these ever-changing meals as the true vessel for his creative needs. “The tasting dinners are really about me expressing myself,” he admits, “An opportunity to do what I want.”

For an upcoming dinner on June 20th, Chef Santos is planning a “signs of summer” menu with a wine-pairing theme yet to be announced. In the meantime, here he is taking a breather from a busy afternoon of butchering to answer a few questions.

You aspire, like many other New York chefs, to create a seasonal menu. Is it more than a trend? Growing up, my family was very seasonal. When my parents emigrated here from Portugal, they brought with them a part of their lives and culinary traditions. We had a garden with rabbits and pigeons, and we ate what grew there. In the summer we pickled vegetables from the garden. My Mother was a very picky produce shopper and would never buy peaches and nectarines in the winter. The mentality of farm-to-table was installed in me since. That is why the idea of a ‘signature dish’ always seems odd to me because ingredients change. I’m glad to see that restaurants are serving more seasonal things. Food is better when you buy it exactly when it tastes good, and not have it shipped from miles away. I’m also concerned with the whole issue of the carbon footprint on the environment. I drive a Prius

It is hot out today. What are you looking forward to cooking this summer? Summer is my favorite season. Spring is fun because you get tired of braising meats all winter and you finally see something green instead of all those roots, but there’s still not much available in the markets. Summer into fall is really the best time to be a chef, since it’s most versatile. You have sweet corn from Jersey, Peaches and nectarines – its like shooting fish in a barrel.

You mentioned your Portuguese heritage. What are some staples of your childhood kitchen? The one thing we always had in the house was piri piri oil. It went on everything, giving food real character. Grilling is a very prominent cooking technique in Portugal, and my dad was always grilling outside, even in the winter. My mother is one of the best cooks I know. She could make just about anything. She made meatloaf like it was nobody’s business.

The Portuguese mark is evident on the menu, but so are influences from the Middle East and Asia. Where are these flavors coming from? When I create a menu, it is as much about the places I’ve been as it is about where I want to go. I love Middle Eastern food. My favorite place to eat in New York is the Hallal cart on 53rd and 6th avenue, which I visit at least once a week. The idea for the tuna dish (with Middle Eastern kebe spice, jasmine rice, and cucumber yogurt) came from watching an episode of Andrew Zimmerman’s Bizarre Foods filmed in Egypt. Every year brings with it new trends in food that seem to take over menus all over town. What’s your take on this year’s hot culinary trends? I think that food trends are brought up by a need or interest. Take a hamburger, for example. They are great, but do they need to be on everybody’s menu? I wish they didn’t have to be. But given the state of the economy, I think they are still a necessity. I accept it but try not to follow too much, and do what I think is right. But listen, there are many people out there right now making ton of money selling lobster rolls…

You worked in some of New York’s most prominent restaurants. Who are the chefs that most inspired you? Thomas Keller [with whom he worked at Per Se] taught me about everything that is beautiful about food. He taught me how meticulous and exacting food can be – the way he sourced the best ingredients, the many influences he drew on to create his food. It was always based on perfect technique. David Bouley, with whom I worked for over a year, is probably one of the most talented chefs I ever met. He taught me cooking under pressure. Working at Bouley was emotionally and physically intense. We worked 100-hour weeks and someone was always quitting. In that chaotic kitchen, I learned how to be good and how to survive. He was always there, always watching. At Bouley you had 250 people dining and you were beat, and the worst thing you can do is make a mistake. I was always a very composed person, but after I finished at Bouley it seemed that there was nothing that could be thrown at me that would rattle me. To last a year at Bouley was a feat that only about 4-5% do. I was there for a year and 2 months. So as much as I learned form Per se and the beauty there, I learned from Bouley and its craziness.

And your own kitchen – is it managed like Bouley’s or Keller’s? I like to sit right in the middle. I embrace a little bit of awkwardness and difficulty in the kitchen because it’s important for a cook to learn to deal with it. But I always want my food to be beautiful, to be sound in technique, and to taste great. I love the craziness and I live the order.

How often do you get to dine out in the city? Just about never. Accidentally, last night I dined at Brushstroke [David Bouley’s newest restaurant]. It was the first time I’ve gone out to eat in about a year. Taking up a kitchen in a new restaurant, you work so much just to make it work. There is a pressure of getting your name out there and proving yourself, so I find it necessary to be here all the time. But with summer coming up I’m hoping to find the time to dine out more. I want to check out The Dutch, eat at Daniel for the first time, and go to Le Bernardin again.

You are trying to establish yourself in a city chuck-full of celebrity chefs. Have you ever considered taking the reality TV path? I was asked to go on the Food Network’s Chopped a few times, but I rather stay away. I actually believe that my experience working at the kitchen at Bouley would have made me a good competitor, but I am so involved right now with my work that I’m not into becoming a celebrity chef. I see myself as very out going, easy to talk to, camera ready. But it is not my focus. My focus is making people happy. I think that is how you make a name for yourself. So you may not see me on Chopped any time soon, but you might catch me on Food Network’s Best thing I Ever Ate. Chef Ann Thornton nominated my venison tartar.

Where Famous People Eat: Ryan Gosling, Howard Stern, & Kathy Griffin

● Ryan Gosling at the Blue Valentine premiere: I have a restaurant in Beverly Hills called Tagine. I’m biased, but I think it’s very good! ● Bobby Flay at Food Network’s opening of Barney’s holiday windows: We love The Breslin. I eat at Keith McNally’s places a lot. In L.A., Bazaar, Jose Andres’s place, where I order the classic tapas. ● Morimoto at Food Network’s opening of Barney’s holiday windows: I’m going to open a new restaurant in Tribeca that will close at 4 a.m. – no Japanese, no sashimi, no sushi. I don’t know when I’ll open it.

● Rob Schneider at the Friars Club Roast for Quentin Tarantino: Candle 79. It’s a vegetarian restaurant, but you would never know it. Everything’s awesome. ● Cheech Marin at the Friars Club Roast for Quentin Tarantino: Milos is a great Greek restaurant for the baked fish in salt. They have a restaurant in Montreal, too. ● Kristin Chenoweth at the Friars Club Roast for Quentin Tarantino: Joe Allen’s. ● Eli Roth at the Friars Club Roast for Quentin Tarantino: Pizzeria Mozza in L.A.. ● Howard Stern & Beth Ostrosky at the Friars Club Roast for Quentin Tarantino: Daniel, for the black sea bass with the potato. ● Kathy Griffin at the Friars Club Roast for Quentin Tarantino: Mon Ami Gabi in Vegas.

Daniel Boulud Is On the Market

Back in ’09, restaurateur Daniel Boulud gave us some advice on shopping in markets for his slew of upscale, New York restaurants (Daniel, Bar Boulud, DB Bistro Moderne, and DBGB). And now it seems that the charming Frenchman is on the market himself.

In explaining techniques for finding good produce, Boulud told BlackBook, “When you go to the market, you use your eyes to spot the good things; you use your brain to look a the price and compare; then you use your nose. Sometimes you can use your hands, but often farmers don’t like when you touch things.” Well now, Boulud is having to use the sixth sense: his heart. Gawker reports that Boulud is calling it quits with his half-French wife, Michelle “Micky” Palmer Boulud. The couple have a college-aged daughter, Alix. Our condolences to Chef Boulud, and let us know if one day down the road we can play matchmaker!

Where Celebs Go Out: Christina Ricci, Leigh Lezark, Eva Amurri

Christina Ricci at the Whitney Art Party: I like Da Umberto and Il Buco for pasta, the Peking Duck House for duck. ● Leigh Lezark of Misshapes: Kenmare, they make really good gnocchi. I do like the brunch at the Tribeca Grand. ● Eva Amurri: Jumbo’s Clown Room in L.A. is super fun. I also love to have a drink and get something to eat at Gjelina, which has amazing tuna crudo and really good vegetable sides and pizza.

Chris Benz: The 18th floor of the Standard, the Boom Boom Room. Kenmare is amazing. ● Geordon Nicol: Kenmare and La Esquina. I love the corn there. ● Maggie Grace: Gjelina in L.A.. My favorite dish there is the burrata. ● Ivanka Trump: Well, now my favorite restaurant is Quattro. I’ve been living there, I love it. There’s an amazing cod that I love, and there’s a beet and goat cheese starter. ● Jennifer Esposito: I love going to Tartine, a quaint little French bistro right by where I live. I like the omelettes. ● Paul Sevigny: Daniel—get the whole tasting menu. ● Kim Carnes at the Songwriters Hall of Fame” Awards gala : We went to a wonderful restaurant, Freemans, last night. It was incredible! I’m a vegetarian, so my favorite is any vegetarian dish. ● David Foster: I just went to a restaurant on Second Avenue and 84th Street. God, it was amazing, I wish I could remember the name of it! Ask my lawyer, Alan Grubman, he was there last night. We had pasta.

Industry Insiders: Martial Vivot, Mane Man

Martial Vivot runs the sophisticated but unstuffy Martial Vivot Salon Pour Hommes next to the MoMA in midtown Manhattan. The gentleman’s-only salon boasts an intimate waiting room complete with a stocked bar and an outdoor terrace. French-born Vivot modeled his namesake business as a calm sanctuary for his clients to meet one-on-one with a stylist, improve their look and walk out feeling fulfilled. Men love it, including Vivot’s hush-hush celebrity clientele. More on the coiffure master after the jump.

On early inspiration: When I was 13 and in school, I took a girl’s ponytail that sat in the front row and sliced it off! I’m not kidding, that was my first haircut.

American v.s. French salons: I stopped going to traditional school when I was 15 years old to study being a stylist. The whole process is much different in France than in America. To cut hair in a French salon, first you have to get the first license it takes you three years of work and school, then you need two more years to be a salon owner and one more year to be able to teach. In America the program is one year and you can even get a license in six months from what I understand.

On his mentor: I’m from a very small town, like 1,500 people. I didn’t know at the time but the gentleman I worked with, Alain Chevalier of the Coifferies de Ver- sailles salon, was doing very well in Paris and got tired of the city and moved to the countryside. So, when I decided to be an apprentice I actually came to his door, and I was lucky to be in a small town working for someone with such great knowledge of our work. He was the one who prepared me for all the contests and taught me the basics. We have an apprentice contest in France, and in maybe 1987, I won for the whole east of France.

On finding the ideal space: Sometimes when you’re apartment hunting or looking for a space you’ll find one, and it’s not the biggest, its not the smallest, but you get in and its just like, “Hmmm, this feels good.” This is what happened here. There are three elements in the salon, which are stone, wood and metal. When those three elements are around you, you feel better, the balance is better and your spirits are better.

The all-male clientele concept: I felt like the men were a left on the side in that whole beauty/hair environment. There used to be only two ways for a man to get a haircut: go to a unisex salon or go to a barbershop. The barbershop is really as good as it gets. Not too much styling, it’s more like a simple cleanup. I wanted to keep the barbershop feeling because that’s what we are. In America when you do men’s, you’re a barber, but we provide the services that you’d normally have to go to the unisex salons to get done — like coloring and relaxers. I love to do women’s hair but, there are a lot of women’s stylists already in town and a lot of them are doing a really good job.

The worst part about opening your own business: Let’s face it, what is it that I like to do most? Cutting hair. When you open a business, your mind is so busy with all of the other aspects of the business. It takes so much to make sure everybody is in place and the harmony is in tune. Once everybody is in tune and it works well, then you can go back to what you like to do.

On finding time for field work: I’m definitely more of a salon person. But of course, when the opportunity to work on a photo shoot comes to me, I’ll take it. We like to style hair so when on top of it you can get published, it’s better for us. Even for editorial, I only do men. Always.

On keeping the celebs coming in: We do have some big celebrity clientele, but I don’t like to use them as a go getter. I think it’s very tacky. If you really want a celebrity to come back to your place, you don’t speak about them. If they want to speak about us, I’m more than happy for that.

On finding inspiration: I find it on the street. I love the subway, surprisingly. It’s a very good place for me to look at clothing and hair.

Go-to places in New York: When it comes to dining, I’m pretty fancy. I love food and I love lots of it. From the basic Blue Ribbon to Daniel. I love L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon at the Four Seasons, Corton and Momofuku. Of course, I prefer French chefs because I’m very much in love with French food.