At Monday night’s James Beard Awards, Dominique Ansel took home the medal in the Outstanding Pastry Chef category—a fitting end to a truly remarkable year for the dessert whiz.
The joyless misanthropes among us can quibble about kitschiness, or whether the Cronut is even that good, but the fact is that few real pastries (we’re not talking Twinkies or Ding Dongs) have ever achieved the reach of the croissant-doughnut hybrid. And even if the Cronut is his saccharine Top 40 hit, Ansel still had the album of the year with classics like the DKA and smart new creations like the Lime Me Up Tart.
To celebrate the Year of the Cronut, Dominique Ansel Bakery has a bunch of special surprises planned for today. For an inside look at the genesis of the hybrid pastry, check out Grub Street’s History of the Cronut, which includes an early sketch of the idea from sous-chef Anna McGorman.
Even if the Cronut is his saccharine Top 40 hit, Ansel still had the album of the year.
We’ve been covering the rise (and rise, and rise) of the Cronut for the past year, as well. Who could forget that time Eliot Spitzer and Scott Stringer were asked about cronuts in the middle of a debate? Cronuts were such serious business, they even invaded political discussions of the day.
Then there was the time we tried to to Luther-ize the Cronut, cross-pollinating it with another another hypebeast food craze—the Umami Burger—to create the Umami Cronut Burger.
The Cronut generated viral stories with the brutal efficiency of a Kardashian.
For those of us who have tracked its path from mere pastry to pop-culture phenomenon, it’s been a complicated journey. We’ve defended the Cronut in the face of haters, but we’ve also decried the Rise of the Cro-tard—lemming-like “foodies” who will line up for anything just to say they did it. We even put on our Assistant Professor of Pop Culture caps and attempted to explain how hybrid foods have collectively conquered the American mind.
What was amazing about the Cronut’s ever-growing legend was how it built on itself week after week, generating viral stories with the brutal efficiency of a Kardashian. Remember when this guy on Craigslist went on the hunt for a “cronut slut”? Or when the typically mild-mannered Ansel had to karate chop of a fool for getting aggressive in line? Or when Heidi Klum saved a seat on her private jet for a gold box of Cronuts?
Ultimately, this was the year the Cronut took over the world, dominating the zeitgeist in a way that few chefs could ever dream of. And so we salute you, Dominique—while only a select few can actually get their hands on a Cronut each morning, it’s kept us all entertained for an entire 365 days, and that’s no small feat.