The World’s Best Pastry Chef Dominique Ansel on Boulud, veal brains and moving beyond bakery

Let’s get the award out of the way – how did it feel to learn you had been voted The World’s Best Pastry Chef 2017?

I couldn’t believe it – my heart was beating very fast and I had the shivers! You always strive to be the best at what you do; that is the goal I set myself when I started over 20 years ago. When you get this acknowledgement, what more can you hope for? But there is no retirement for me, cooking is my life.

So what’s next for Dominique Ansel?

We just opened a second Bakery in Tokyo. When we opened our first store in Japan [in 2015] the majority of the menu came from New York, but now 80% of the offer is unique to Japan. We never copy and paste; we adapt to each location and each culture. Next up is Los Angeles, where we will be opening a full-service sit-down restaurant with a brand new menu later this year, alongside a Dominique Ansel Bakery. It’s a chance to do something very new. I trained as a chef and I aim to be as creative at this restaurant as I am with pastry.

You worked at Restaurant Daniel in NYC for over five years. How great an influence has Daniel Boulud been?

We have almost a father-son relationship. When he brought me to New York [from Paris] I wasn’t sure I could do fine dining; it was very different from the bakery world. It took me a while to find my style, but after two years there, we earned a third Michelin star. I loved working with him, but when I left in 2011, Daniel was not happy! It took a little time, but since then he has been incredibly supportive. My years there were very influential in the sense that I have brought many elements of the restaurant world into pastry.

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