America is hungry, though. It’s perfect timing for a chef like this, who thinks outside the cupcake box by architecting Instagram-ready desserts for droves of food-obsessed millennials to stamp on their gustatory passports. Ansel now has his flagship Dominique Ansel Bakery in SoHo, Dominique Ansel Kitchen in the West Village, which is also home to an after-hours eight-seat dessert tasting menu experience, and Dominique Ansel Bakery Japan, which opened in Tokyo’s fashionable Omotesandō neighborhood in June 2015.
Despite not being particularly close with his family members, Ansel found a kitchen job at the age of sixteen to help support them. “My first year was horrible,” Ansel says of his experience peeling carrots in that since-closed Beauvais, France, restaurant. Not only was he “burned with a hot spatula” and “pushed around,” as is the custom among old-school cooks, but he was also working with “people who were not passionate.” Then, Lepage, a young chef from Paris took the helm. “He was buying whole lambs just to practice butchering,” says Ansel. “His father-in-law was hunting in the south of France, and we’d get in game birds to de-feather and clean. We were doing everything from A to Z, and he had a real love for it. He changed my whole way of thinking.”