Shots fired in the world of baked goods! The masses still gather for Dominque Ansel's viral pastry hybrid the Cronut, but an article in this week's New Yorker food issue makes very clear how one notable NYC baker feels about the creation. Writer Adam Gopnik talks with City Bakery owner Maury Rubin—whose own pretzel croissant has toed the line between tradition and innovation—about Ansel's operation, and Rubin wastes no time calling Ansel's base pastry "lousy."
"I thought the pastry was terrible, and I thought his croissant was especially terrible," Rubin reveals after he visited the bakery pre-Cronut. "That a pastry chef is going to make a lousy croissant? You know what? I'm not even going to hold that against him, because most people make lousy croissants." For his part, Rubin sees the difference between dessert-making and pastry-making quite different, hence his "forgiveness" of Ansel's shortcomings. "When the Cronut became a thing, I just thought, 'Oh, my God, that's perfect!' His croissant sucked, so he threw it in oil. And I think, Brilliant! He must have known, so he threw it in hot oil." Points for self-awareness?
Continuing his rant, Rubin also laments the high cost of food, especially butter, which plays a prominent role in croissant creation. "Butter went from a dollar twenty-five a pound to four-fifty a pound," Rubin reveals. "And in a French-driven pastry bakery the croissant is literally fifty percent butter, so half of most of what you buy at City Bakery is butter." Turns out people aren't eager to pay upwards of $5 for a croissant "even if that is closer to what it costs to make one." Tell that to Ansel, whose butter filled creations retail for exactly $5 a pop (plus tax).
The team at Dominique Ansel Bakery took the slight in stride—they're probably too busy preparing for the baker's cookbook launch and rolling in piles of money to care. "Starting any business is difficult, and our entire team works hard daily as part of culinary community that has always supported each other. We have no intention to break away from that tradition," the bakery said in a statement. "And are always going to support food businesses, innovation, and the hardworking chefs moving our community forward. We remain humble and are grateful for those who have supported us through the years."